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Henril ^, Sage 



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Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 

Cornell University Library 
N7831 .E92 

Animal symbolism in ecclesiastical archi 


3 1924 032 663 290 

Central Section of a Window in the Cathedral of Eourges. 



By E. p. EVANS 









Impulse given to the study of natural history by Alexander 
the Great — Scientific spirit fostered by Aristotle — Lack 
of this spirit among the Romans — Alexandria as a centre 
of learning under the Ptolemies — The Christian theory of 
the relation of the Book of Revelation to the Book of 
Nature — The patristic conception of the visible creation 
as an image of the invisible world and a mirror of spiritual 
truth — Animals as religious emblems in Oriental, and 
especially in Buddhistic, literature — Mineralogjcal sym- 
bolism — Magical and medical properties and religious 
significance of precious stones — Legends of Solomon's 
wisdom, and his method of building the Temple — Cere- 
mony of blessing jewels — Speculations of Justinus Kemer 
and Schubert concerning the occult affinities of the mineral 
kingdom to man — The typology of precious stones accord- 
ing to the Physiologus — Spiritual meaning of the diamond, 
the pearl, and the Indian stone — Terrobuli in Christian 
symbolism and architecture p.zi 



Plastic and pictorial representations of animals in Christian 
art — Literary sources of these representations — Clavis of 

vi Contents 

St. Melito — Epistle of Barnabas — The Physiologus com- 
piled by an Alexandrian Greek — The Hexahemera of the 
Fathers — ^Adam as the author of a natural history — 
Popular character of the Physiologus — Origen as an 
exegetist — Roger Bacon's views of the place of animals 
in Scripture — Expositions and amplifications of the Phy- 
siologus by Epiphanius, St. Isidore, Petrus Damiani, and 
others — Anastasius Sinaita's Anagogical Contemplations 
— Latin poem on beasts and their mystical meaning by 
Theobald of Plaisance, and the English paraphrase — 
The Physiologus translated into Latin, Ethiopic, Arabic, 
Armenian, Syriac, Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, and all the 
principal modem languages of Europe — Brief descrip- 
tions of these versions — Prudentius' poems Hamartigenia 
and Psychomachia — The phoenix a symbol of solar 
worship used to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the 
Resurrection — French bestiaries : Philippe de Thaun's 
Le Livre des Creatures, Peter of Picardy's prose version 
of the Physiologus, and Le Bestiaire Divin of William, a 
priest of Normandy — Encyclopaedias of natural history 
based on the Physiologus: Thomas de Cantimprd's 
Liber de Naturis Rerum, the Speculum Naturale of 
Vincent de Beauvais, Liber de Proprietatibus Rerum of 
Bartholomaeus Anglicus, Hortus Deliciarum of Herrade 
de Landsberg, and other compilations — The church 
edifice an emblem of the human soul — Symbolism of the 
raven and the dove — Albertus Magnus' criticism of the 
Physiologus p. 52 



The three characteristics of the lion — Representations of the 
lion as a symbol of the Resurrection in architecture — 
Beasts often have a twofold signification — The lion and 
bear as types of Satan — Diabolification of the dog — 

Contents vii 

Strange misconception of the canine character— Lions as 
pedestals — Metaphorical use of the lion in poetry — The 
lizard in architecture — Artistic delineations of the unicorn 
as a type of Christ's Incarnation — Auricular conception of 
Christ as the Logos — Supposed anti-toxical virtue of the 
unicorn's horn and that of the African viper — The unicorn 
in legend and poetry — Characteristics of the elephant — 
Symbol of the fall of man — Julius Caesar's queer account 
of the elk — Elephants embroidered on chasubles — Four 
characteristics of the serpent — ^Artistic and poetic uses 
of its fabled attributes — The eagle as a symbol of 
spiritual aspiration and baptismal regeneration — Allu- 
sions to it by Dante and other poets — The fish in sacred 
iconology — Significance of the whale in ecclesiastical 
architecture — Symbolism of the remora and serra — Im- 
portance of the phoenix and the pelican as emblems of 
Christian doctrine — Their prominent place in Church 
architecture — Import of the fabulous exploits of the otter 
and the ichneumon — Panther and dragon typical of 
Christ and Belial — Healing power of the "heavenly 
panther'' — Lesson of self-renunciation taught by the 
beaver — Characteristic of the hyena — Symbolism of the 
salamander— The partridge a type of the devil— Ex- 
amples of the charadrius in art— Mystical meaning of the 
crow, turtle-dove, ousel, merl, fulica, and hoopoe— Curious 
statement of Luther concerning swallows— Why God 
feeds the young ravens — Peculiarities of the wolf— The 
Physiologus condemned as heretical— Freely used by 
Gregory the Great in his scriptural exposition— Virtues 
and vices portrayed as women mounted on various 
animals— Disputatious scholastics satirized— Tetramorph 
—Gospel mills— The ark of the covenant as the triumphal 
chariot of the Cross— Cock and clergy— Origin of the 
basilisk and its significance— Its prominence in religious 
symbology and sacred architecture — Cautious scepticism 
of Albertus Magnus— The Physiologus from a psycho- 
logical point of view, as illustrating the credulity of the 

viii Contents 

Fathers of the Church— Why " the hart panteth after the 
water-brooks " — Story of the antelope — Barnacle geese — 
" Credo quia absurdum " — Modern counterparts of early 
Christian apologists and exegetists /. 80 



Excess of animal symbolism in sacred edifices of the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries — Earnest but fruitless 
protest of St. Bernard — Image-worship authorized and en- 
joined by the Council held at Nice in 787 — Images not to 
be inventions of artists, but to be fashioned according to 
ecclesiastical traditions and ecclesiological prescriptions — 
Views of St. Nilus — Paintings and sculptures for the 
instruction of the ignorant — Gautier de Coinsi renews the 
protest against "wild cats and lions" in the house of 
God — Angelus Rumpler makes the same complaint — 
Warnings by the Councils of Milan and Bordeaux — In- 
troductions of episodes from the beast-epos with satirical 
tendencies — Secular guilds supplant religious orders as 
architects — Caricature of sacred rites — Fox preaching 
to geese in St. Martin's Church in Leicester — Sculptures 
in Strasburg Minster — Reliefs of the wolfs novitiate in 
Freiburg Minster — Poem by Marie de France — Sam- 
son and the lion — Provost's cushion in St. Michael's 
at Pforzheim — Burlesque of Calvin in St. Semin at 
Toulouse — Luther satirized in St. Victor's Church at 
Xanten — Foolscap paper — Origin and character of the 
Papstesel — Monstrosities as portents — Bishop-fish — The 
Papal Ass in religious polemics— The Monk-calf of 
Freiburg and 'its interpretation — Miniatures illustrating 
the " Woes of France "—The fox of the Physiologus and 
of the beast-epos — Reliefs of the wiles of the fox and the 
woes of drunkenness in St. Fiacre— Execution of the cat 
in the cathedral at Tarragona— Significance of the crane 
extractir.g a bone from the fox's throat in Autun Cathe- 

Contents ix 

dral — Burrowing foxes types of devils in Worcester 
Cathedral — Scenes from the Reynardine and other poems 
in the church of the Templars, St. Denis, Amiens Cathe- 
dral, Sherborne Minster, and other sacred edifices, but 
most fully represented in Bristol Cathedral and Beverly 
Minster — Heraldic rebuses and canting devices — Satire 
on the election of a pope in Lincoln Cathedral — Mendi- 
cant friars caricatured as foxes in Ely, Gloucester, 
Winchester, and other cathedrals — Odo of Sherington's 
opinion of these orders — Similar delineations in the 
churches and cloisters of continental Europe : Kempen, 
Emmerick, Calcar, and Cleves — The Lay of Aristotle 
and Vergil's affair of gallantry — The Vision of Piers 
Plowman — Animals as musicians — Grotesques, bur- 
lesques, and riddles — Funeral banquet at the burial of the 
fox at Marienhafen — The frog as a symbol of regenera- 
tion — Carvings of individual fancies and conceits and 
illustrations of proverbs — Episodes from the Roman de 
Penart—Ma:ny of these sculptures, especially in Northern 
France and the Netherlands, destroyed by iconoclasts 
and revolutionists p. 178 



Universality of the symbolism of the cross — Cruciform 
phenomena in nature — The sign of the cross in the Old 
Testament, and its prefigurative significance — ^Wonder- 
working power of the cross in Jewish history — Its 
presence in the Garden of Eden and in the Hebrew 
alphabet — The cosmos has the form of a cross — Influence 
of the doctrine of the Trinity upon art — Trinitarian 
suggestions in the material creation — Mystic meanings 
in sacred architecture — Symbolism of bells and signifi- 
cance of orientation — Superstitious regard for the points 
of the compass — Transition from christolatry to hagiolatry 

X Contents 

— Subtilities of ecclesiology — Meagreness of Hebrew 
mythology — Exercise of the mythopceic faculty by the 
Rabbis — Early Christian opposition to the theatre — 
Theatrical rites and indecent amusements in churches 
and cloisters — Feast of Fools, etc — Analogy between the 
anatomy of the ass and the architecture of a cathedral 
— ^Jewish and Christian reverence for the ass — Feast of 
the Ass — Symbolism swallowed up in buffoonery — Traffic 
in holy relics — Satirized in Heywood's play of The Four 
P.P. — Anatomical peculiarities of saints — Queer freaks 
in sacred osteology — Specimens of relics in Catholic 
churches — Miraculous power of self-multiplication — 
— Choice collection of Frederic the Wise — ^Anti-Semitic 
sculptures in Christian churches — Coarse relief ridiculing 
the Jews at Wittenberg, and its interpretation by Luther 
— Similar carvings in other cities — Decrees of John the 
Good and Frederic the Hohenstaufe concerning usury 
— Classical myths in -Christian art — Orpheus a prototype 
of Christ — Bacchus and the Lord's vineyard — Greek 
comic poets adored as Christian saints — Isis as the 
Virgin Mary — Crude symbolism of early Christian art — 
Influence of Pagan antiquity — The peacock as a Christian 
emblem — Moralization of the myth of Argus and lo — 
Sirens and centaurs in architecture — The Sigurd Saga 
— ^Weighing of souls — Recording angels and devils — 
Woman as an emissary of Satan — The devil in Christian 
art— Dance of death — Oldest representation of it — Its 
democratic character and popularity — Manuscripts with 
miniatures — Holbein's drawings — Sensational sermons 
of Honor^ de Sainte Marie — Modem delineations of the 
theme by Rethel, Seitz, Liihrig, and others ... p. 246 




Central Section of a Window in the Cathedral of 

Bourges Frontispiece 

Terrobuli. {Bestiary) 50 

Sculpture on Arch of Doorway of old Norman Church 

at Alne, Yorkshire 50, 51 

Lion howling over Whelps. {Relief in Munich) ... 82 

Lion howling over Whelps. {Reiie/ in SirasSurg) ... 84 

Capture of the Unicom. {Bestiary) 95 

Hunting the Unicorn. {Old German Engraving) ... 97 

Annunciation. {Parish Church of Eltenberg) ... 100 

Eagle renewing its Youth. {Bestiary) 117 

Eaglets gazing at the Sun. {Cathedral of Lyons) ... 118 

Whale and Mariners. {Psalter of Isabella of France) 124 

Pelican. {Bestiary) 128 

Phoenix. {Bestiary) 129 

Otter (Water-snake) and Crocodile (Sea-monster). 

{Psalter of Isabella of France) 133 

Panther and Dragon. {Bestiary) 13S 

Beaver. {Bestiary) 138 

Hyena. {Bestiary) 142 

Partridge and her Fosterlings. {Bestiary) 144 

Charadrius. {Bestiary) 146 

Turtle-doves. {Psalter of Isabella of France) 148 

Raven. {Bestiary) 150 

Wolf. {Bestiary) 151 

The Gospel and the Law. {Horius Delidarum) ... 155 

Beasts of the Apocalypse. {Saint-Nizier of Troyes)... 157 

Gospel-Mill. {Abbey of Vdzelai in Burgundy) ... 159 

Cock calling Hens. {Psalter of Isabella of France) ... 162 

Liberality and Avarice. {Manuscript in Musie de Cluny) 163 

Fighting the Basilisk. {Abbey of Vizelai in Burgundy) 165 
Sphinx subduing the Basilisk. {Abbey of Vizelai in . 

Burgundy) 168. 

xii List of Illustrations 

Hart and Dragon. {Bestiary) 172 

Antelope. (Bestiary) 173 

Antelope on the Euphrates. {Psalter of Isabella of 

France) 174 

Barnacle Geese. {Bestiary) I75 

Burial of the Fox. {Strasburg Minster) 189 

Novitiate of the Wolf. {Freiburg Minster) igo 

Sea-Bishop. {Gessner's Fischbuch) 198 

Papal Ass. {Cathedral of Coma) 201 

Wiles of the Fox. {Bestiary) 205 

Execution of the Cat. {Cathedral of Tarragona in 

Spain) 207 

Artifices of the Fox in ensnaring Fowls. {St. Fiacre, 

near Le Faouet) 208 

Flaying the Fox. {St. Fiacre, near Le Faouet) ... 209 

Cock and Hen drawing Fox to Execution. {St. 

Ursin, near Bruges) 213 

The "Lay of Aristotle." {Church of Saint-Jean in 

Lyons) 228 

Carvings on Stalls in the Parish Church of Kempen 
(Rhineland) : Threshing Eggs — Looking through an 
Egg — Feeling of a Hen — Hatching Eggs — ^Weeping 
over a fallen Basket of Eggs — Eel-pot — Crane and 
Fox dining — Fox preaching to Fowls — Dogs fighting 
for a Bone — Fox swimming after Ducks — Ass with 
Rosary — Casting Daisies before Swine — Ass playing 
the Lyre — Pig playing the Bagpipe — Reynard as 
Confessor eating the Kite his Confessant — Bear 
eating Honey — Belling the Cat^— Shearing Swine 239-242 
Jolly Friar and Tinker. {Minorite Cloister in Cleves) 244 
Satire on the Jews. {Parish Church of Wittenberg) ... 290 
Satire on the Jews. {Tower of Bridge in Frankfort) 295 
Pyramus and Thisbe. {Cathedral of B&le) ... 304,305 

Peacocks. {Psalter of Isabella of France) 311 

Myth of Argus. {Bestiary) 314 

Sirens. {Psalter of Isabella of France) 314 

Siren presenting a Fish to a Man. {Church at Cunault- 

sur-Loire) 316 

Siegfried (Sigurd) Saga. {C( thedral of Freising, near 

Munich). Four views of the pillar in the crypt 322-325 
Sigiird Saga. {Church of Hyllestad in Norway) 326, 327 
Weighing Souls. {Cathedral of Bourges) 329 



One of the most charming passages in the idyls 
of Theocritus is that in which Eros complains to 
Aphrodite of the bees that stung his hand as he 
was stealing honey from their hive, and expresses 
his astonishment that such very small creatures could 
cause so severe pain. Thereupon the Cyprian god- 
dess laughingly replies ; " Thou too art like the bee, 
for although a tiny child, yet how terrible are the 
wounds thou dost inflict." This witty retort and 
pat allusion to the pangs produced by the arrows 
from Cupid's quiver greatly pleased the fancy of 
the elder Lucas Cranach, who depicted the scene 
in no less than five different paintings, the most 
celebrated of which is now in the Royal Museum 
of Berlin. The same conceit was embodied, at a 
still earlier period, in one of the poems of Anacreon, 
who, however, represents Eros as having been stung 
while plucking a rose in which a bee was sleeping. 
A Spanish poet of the seventeenth century, Estevan 

Animal Symbolism 

Manuel de Villegas, famous in Old Castile as the 
translator and imitator of Anacreon, gives in Las 
Eroticas a vivid description of a duel between Amor 
and a bee, the two ravishers of hearts and flowers. 
The combat ended with the painful wounding of 
the god and the death of the insect, and thus 
ravaged hearts and pillaged flowers were both 
avenged. In a madrigal of the Roman " Arcadian," 
Felice Zappi, Cupids swarm like bees round the 
head of the loved one, clinging to her hair, nestling 
in her bosom, gathering honey from her lips, and 
waving their torches out of her eyes. In his charm- 
ing lyric Die Biene, Lessing gives a didactic turn 
to Anacreon's poem already referred to, and makes 
Amor learn a lesson of strategy from his misfor- 
tune : henceforth he was wont to lurk in roses and 
violets, and, when a maiden came to pluck them, 
" flew forth as a bee and stung." A kiss is also 
personified as a bee, which extracts honey from the 
lips, and, at the same time, pierces the heart with 
its sting. 

Curiously enough this simple, sensuous, and 
suggestive imagery, which plays such a prominent 
part in Greek, and especially in Oriental, erotics, is 
wholly foreign to those of the Germanic and 
Slavonic races; it is not native to the poetry of 
these nations, and blooms in their literature only 
as an exotic. For the delineation of the tender 
passion they preferred a symbolism drawn from 
the vegetable kingdom, and the real or fictitious 
qualities of fruits and flowers; the apple, the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 3 

peach, the fig, the rose, the lily, the narcissus, 
the anemone, the violet, and the pink are used to 
illustrate the attractions of female beauty and the 
attributes of connubial love. Into Germany, whose 
pagan tribes seem to have been acquainted with 
bees, chiefly if not exclusively in their wild state, 
the art of rearing these insects was introduced with 
Christianity, and carried on for the most part by 
the various monastic orders. There was hardly a 
cloister without its hive, which not only supplied 
honey and wax for culinary and cultic purposes, 
but also served as an example to the friars of an 
ideal life of communistic industry and cenobitic 
chastity. The superiors of the convents were fond 
of emphasizing this analogy in their exhortations to 
the recluses under their charge, and of enforcing it 
in their religious poetry. Peter of Capua calls the 
risen and ascended Saviour "apis aetherea"; the 
saints famous for good works are compared to bees ; 
eloquent Fathers of the Church and expounders of 
the faith — Chrysostom, Ambrose, Isidore of Spain, 
and Bernard of Clairvaux — are said to have lips 
flowing with honey (melltfluus); and the virgin 
queen of the hive is, in the hymns of mediaeval 
mariolaters, a favourite type of the Virgin Queen 
of Heaven. But notwithstanding the frequency of 
these allusions in Christian literature, and the 
consecration of honey and wax to ritual purposes, 
the bee figures rarely in Christian art. It is found 
occasionally carved on tombs in the catacombs as 
a symbol of immortality ; in this case, however, it 

Animal Symbolism 

does not express a specifically Christian conception, 
but is a survival of paganism. In ancient times 
honey was supposed to be an effective antiseptic, 
and it was customary to smear with it the bodies 
of the dead in order to preserve them from putre- 
faction. Alexander the Great is said to have been 
thus embalmed, and the same usage formed an 
integral part of the Mithras-cult, and can be traced 
still farther back to the solar worship of the 
Assyrians and Babylonians. Under the Roman 
empire the mysteries of the Mithras-cult became 
widely diffused throughout Western Europe; 
Christian churches were erected over altars dedi- 
cated to the old Persian sun-god, as in S. Clemente 
at Rome, and the gilded bull's head and three 
hundred golden bees, discovered at Tournay in 
1653, in the tomb of the Merovingian king, 
Childeric III., had their origin in the same system 
of worship. These bees, which decorated the royal 
mantle of the living monarch, and embellished his 
shroud after death, were invested with a traditional 
sacredness in France as emblems of sovereignty, and 
therefore adopted by the first Napoleon, in order to 
give a seeming shimmer of ancient lustre to an 
upstart dynasty. 

Christ, as we have seen, was called the " asthereal 
bee," and it is an interesting coincidence that 
Vishnu, incarnate in the form of Krishna, should 
be represented with a blue bee hovering over his 
head as a symbol of the ^ther. It is not probable 
that this similarity is to be explained on the theory 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 5 

of an historical transmission of ideas, or that there 
is any genetic connection between these conceptions, 
except so far as they might grow naturally and 
independently out of the solar character of both 
religions. There is no doubt, however, that the 
Orient is the chief source of our symbolisms, which 
in migrating westward have undergone such a 
variety of transformations and adaptations as in 
many cases greatly to obscure their original signifi- 
cance. In the Brihat-KathA-Sarit-Sdgara (" Great 
Ocean of the Rivers of Stories ") of Somadeva, there 
is the tale of a traveller, who fell asleep on a forest 
tree, and when he awoke saw a tiger lying in wait 
for him below, and an enormous serpent coiled 
above his head and ready to spring upon him. 
At the same time he discovered on a branch by his 
side some drops of honey from a swarm of bees in 
the hollow trunk, and in the enjoyment of its 
sweetness forgot all about the perils by which he 
was surrounded. Long before the age of Soma- 
deva this allegory of human life was current in 
India, whence it passed into the legendary litera- 
ture of Europe, subject to the modifications of an 
Occidental environment (for example in Jacobus 
de Voragine's Legenda Aurea, and the Barlaam 
und Josaphat of Rudolf von Ems), and is the theme 
of an elaborate bas-relief on the south door of the 
baptistery of Parma, where we see a man sitting 
on the limb of a tree eagerly eating the honey that 
trickles from the leaves ; at the foot of the tree is 
a dragon, and gnawing at its roots are two mice. 

Animal Symbolism 

white and black, symbols of day and night, the 
chief divisions of all-devouring time, which ulti- 
mately cause every tree of life to fall. M. Henri 
Gaidoz has shown by strongly presumptive, if not 
wholly conclusive, evidence, that the Virgin of the 
Seven Swords is a Christian .appropriation and 
adaptation of the Babylonian- Assyrian war-goddess 
Istar, who is represented on ancient monuments 
with seven darts in her shoulders, so arranged as to 
form with their shafts a halo encircling her head. 
Pictures of this goddess, brought by mediaeval 
Italian merchants from the East, were supposed to 
refer to the Virgin Mary, and to the fulfilment of 
the prophecy of Simeon that a sword should pierce 
through her soul ; and it was not until the fifteenth 
century that it was slightly modified to suit the 
Gospel record, and received a permanent place in 
Christian iconography. The existence of a revered 
image of the Holy Virgin in remote regions of the 
East was easily accounted for by the clergy, like 
many other startling resemblances in religious rites 
and symbols, as the marvellous and quite miraculous 
results of the mythical mission of the apostle 

Indeed, nothing was more common in the middle 
ages than this Christianization of pagan deities. 
Thus the eagle as an emblem of Jupiter caused the 
son of Kronos and sovereign of Olympus to be 
mistaken for John the Evangelist; Poseidon and 
Pallas were regarded as Adam and Eve ; Hercules 
with his club passed for Samson with the jawbone 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 7 

of an ass; and representations of Venus were 
ingeniously construed into those of the Virgin 
Mary. Under the influence of the Renaissance 
the newly-awakened aesthetic sense proved strong 
enough to overrule the scruples of religious senti- 
ment, and the monuments of classical antiquity 
became models for imitation in the productions of 
Christian art. We have a striking example of this 
tendency in a marble relief of the Assumption of 
the Virgin, which belonged originally to Saint- 
Jacques-la-Boucherie, and is now in the abbatial 
church of Saint-Denis. Her graceful figure is 
almost wholly nude, and resembles Venus rising 
from the sea rather than the Virgin Mary ascend- 
ing into heaven; she folds her hands in the 
attitude of prayer, and stands with one foot on a 
cloud and the other on the head of a cherub, while 
four pagan genii as angels accompany her, playing 
on musical instruments. 

It was in the Orient, too, that mythical and 
symbolical zoology, as the natural outgi'owth of 
the doctrine of metempsychosis, attained its most 
exuberant development. The monstrosities of 
Indian, Assyrian, Egyptian, and archaic Greek 
art, sphinxes, centaurs, minotaurs, human-headed 
bulls, lion-headed kings, horse-headed goddesses, 
and sparrow-headed gods, are all the plastic em- 
bodiments of this metaphysical tenet. The same 
notion finds expression in heraldry, where real 
and fabulous animals are blazoned in whimsical 
devices on coats-of-arms and ensigns as emblems 

8 Animal Symbolism 

of qualities supposed to be peculiar to individuals 
or hereditary in families. The man adorned his 
escutcheon with the bird or the beast which he 
was proud of resembling or wished to rival, whose 
rapidity of flight he coveted, or whose ferocity he 
feared. By this naVve symbolism the primitive 
chieftain thought to strike terror in his foes, or 
to strengthen the courage and confidence of his 
friends and confederates. Out of the same circum- 
stances arose also an uncanny feeling of awe as 
regards the lower animals, and a superstitious 
dread of provoking their enmity. Grimm, in his 
exhaustive discussion of this topic, has called 
attention to that early stage of society, when the 
ravenous wolf and the shaggy bear, prowling 
through the dark glens and sunny glades of the 
interminable forest, were looked upon, not merely 
as rapacious brutes, whose physical strength and 
voracity were to be feared, but rather as incar- 
nations of mysterious and malignant forces capable 
of inflicting injuries by occult and magical influ- 
ences, and therefore not to be enraged or irritated 
in any manner. For this reason they were not 
called by their real names, but were propitiated 
by flattering epithets, such as black-foot, blue- 
foot, gold-foot, sweet-foot, grey-beard, broad-brow, 
flash-eye, forest-brother, and a variety of similar 
appellations. The demon-soul revealed itself in 
the fierce glare of the eye and the long, weird 
howl, which broke like the voice of an imprisoned 
fiend on the midnight air, as the beasts were 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 9 

supposed to be holding conference concerning the 
affairs and destinies of men, into which the im- 
mense age many of them were thought to attain: 
would in itself give them more than Rosicrucian: 
insight. This sacred and supernatural character 
invested all their movements with extraordinary, 
interest and portentous significance. They directed 
the emigrations of tribes, and determined the places 
in which colonies were to be planted, watched 
over the infancy of heroes and suckled the founders 
of nations, indicated the sites of future cities, 
showed where temples were to be erected or 
saints buried, and were selected with the most 
scrupulous care and circumspection for purposes 
of sacrifice and vaticination. The presence or 
sudden approach of certain quadrupeds was an 
omen of good or evil, and auguries were drawn 
from the movements or cries of birds. A hare 
crossing the line of march of an army has sufficed 
to fill the troops with terror, and cause them to 
flee in a panic. Among the reliefs in the south 
porch of the cathedral of Chartres is that of 
a warrior dropping his sword and running away 
from this timid quadruped. Finally, animals were 
transferred to the sky and identified with the con- 
stellations, in which form they continued to look 
down upon the earth with auspicious or malign 
aspect, and to forecast the fate of mankind. 

A natural consequence of this enigmatical and 
mystical relation of the world of men to the world 
of beasts was that the latter became at a very 

lo Animal Symbolism 

early period objects of worship and mythopoetic 
speculation. Zoolatry has existed among all 
nations, but this cult reached its highest develop- 
ment among the Egyptians, who adored a vast 
Pantheon of deified bulls, rams, cats, mice, ibises, 
sparrows, hawks, crocodiles, and a multitude of 
mongrel creations of the imagination. Even insects, 
.flies, bees, beetles, were exalted to divinities. 
Monstrosities were held in peculiar veneration. 
The union of human bodies with the heads of 
beasts or birds is especially characteristic of the 
Egyptian religion ; similar incongruities are met 
with among the most ancient deities of Greece, 
and were doubtless of Asiatic origin. Thus the 
Arcadian Demeter was represented with a horse's 
head, and the Cretan Minotaur with the head of 
a bull, not to mention the hosts of gorgons, 
harpies, centaurs, tritons, nereids, sirens, and satyrs 
formed by uniting a human head with the body 
of a beast or bird or fish. The Greek alone, with 
his superior aesthetic sense, chaste imagination, 
and unsurpassable plastic skill, knew how to give 
organic unity to these heterogeneous combinations, 
pruning them of excrescences, purging them of 
superfluities, and rendering the boldest violations 
of the laws of nature beautiful and harmonious as 
works of art. These hybrid creatures of the fancy, 
like the sphinxes which guarded the portals of the 
temples of Thebes, and the colossal winged lions 
of Nineveh and Persepolis, originated in the priestly 
proclivity to symbolize and to express mystical 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 1 1 

ideas in material forms ; but their primitive crude- 
ness, refined and transmuted in the crucible of the 
Hellenic intellect, emerged as the pure gold of 
artistic perfection. As the result of this process 
of transformation or evolution, if we may regard 
symbols as species and apply to them the catch- 
word of modem science, the Greek embodiments 
of these conceptions have survived as the fittest 
in the struggle for existence, and secured a per- 
manent place in the art and literature of the 
civilized world. The fact that they are universally 
accepted as " classical " is conclusive proof of their 
absolute ascendency. 

Alexandria was for several centuries, under the 
Ptolemies and the Roman prefects, the principal 
channel of commercial intercourse between the 
East and the West, and consequently the point 
at which Oriental and Occidental ideas came into 
constant contact and often into sharp conflict, but 
by mutual concession and compromise gradually 
developed a certain eclecticism and syncretism of 
philosophical speculations and religious systems. 
Thus arose the so-called Alexandrian School, in 
which the achievements of Egyptian, Hellenic, and 
Hebrew culture were commingled and mutually 
supplemented. Christianity, however, was too 
aggressive in its spirit and too exclusive in its 
claims to accept any compromise, or to enter into 
any amicable modus vivendi with other cults. Its 
mission was to put all things under its feet, and to 
assert its universal supremacy, and for this reason 

12 Animal Symbolism 

it recognized the validity of older forms of worship 
and admitted their raison d'etre only so far as they 
could be shown to have a specifically propaedeutic 
relation to itself as the only true religion. Parti)- 
in application of this principle, and partly as a 
matter of policy in order to facilitate its propaga- 
tion, it appropriated so far as possible the rites 
and symbols and ancient traditions of antecedent 
religions, interpreting them as anticipations, alle- 
gories, prophecies, and prefigurations which had 
now been fully accomplished and thereby abro- 
gated. Christian proselytes of different races were 
eager and adept in making all available currents of 
their ancestral mythology tributary to the stream, 
whose waters were for the healing of the nations. 
Egyptian converts, known as Copts (Copt, Gyptios, 
Kyptaios, like Gypsy, is a corruption of AtyJ/wTtos), 
found in the sacred records of their progenitors, 
as preserved in picture-writing and plastic art, no 
lack of ideographic and other symbolical material 
which could be easily converted to Christian uses. 
Thus the hieroglyphic sign -f, pronounced onk, 
and signifying "life," would be readily accepted 
as an ansated cross 4". and naturally give rise to 
the simpler form i^ so often represented on Coptic 
monuments ; by a slight change it might be 
metamorphosed into the monogrammatic name of 
Christ ^ . In like manner an ancient Coptic relief 
of the Virgin and Child, described by M. Gayet 
{Les Monuments Coptes du Mtisde de Boulaq, 
Paris, 1889), and by Georg Ebers {SinnbUdlicJtes, 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 13 

Leipzig, 1892), is a servile imitation of the tradi- 
tional Egyptian representations of Isis suckling 
Horus. The necklace of the Madonna is the 
same as that worn by goddesses on the monu- 
ments, and by ladies of royal rank in the age of 
the Pharaohs. The chair, on which she is seated, 
with its back shaped like the hieroglyphic f (s), 
is an exact copy of that on which Egyptian 
deities were wont to be enthroned and Egyptian 
sovereigns used to sit in state. The stiff and 
angular infant is the very image of Horus ; near 
by stands Joseph, rather rigidly draped, and hold- 
ing in his right hand a tree and an instrument 
resembling a chisel, which may be intended to 
indicate the occupation of a carpenter. Above 
their heads extends the ideogram 1=1 (pt), signi- 
fying the sky or heavens, and suggesting either 
the place of their abode or their divine character. 
Over all hovers a female gyrfalcon with outspread 
wings, the Nechebt-Ilithyia (ElXeiOvia), which pre- 
sides over births and renders parturition easy, as 
is stated in the Physiologus, by means of the Indian 
stone eutokios (eiroKtos). 

Another striking example of this tendency is the 
transformation of Horus slaying Seth-Typhon into 
St. George and the Dragon. An Egyptian bas- 
relief of bronze in the Louvre, and a similar one in 
clay in the British Museum, represent the sparrow^ 
headed god equipped as a mounted warrior, and 
thrusting his spear into the neck of a crocodile, the 
emblem and incarnation of his demonic foe. In 

14 Animal Symbolism 

Egyptian mythology Horus symbolized the vital 
energy and reproductive power of nature ; he derived 
his name from the Semitic /far, signifying light, and 
was therefore properly regarded by Herodotus as 
identical with Apollo; hence the double name of the 
Greco-Egyptian priest Horapollo, whose Hierogly- 
phica (edited by C. Leemans, Amsterdam, 1835) is 
an early and important contribution to symbolical 
zoology. Horus personified not only the vivifying 
and fertilizing forces of the physical world, and the 
triumph of life over death, but also the victory of 
good over evil; his feast was therefore a vernal 
festival celebrated on the twenty-third of April. 
Typhon, on the other hand, was the demon of the 
desert, the producer of drought and sterility and 
famine. As the counterpart to this delineation we 
have a rude Coptic relief of St George and the 
Dragon, which was discovered at Luxor, and is so 
thoroughly Egyptian in character that it might be 
easily mistaken for Horus and Seth-Typhon. Over 
the haloed head of the Christian hero is an equilateral 
triangle, a symbol of the Trinity of frequent occur- 
rence on Egyptian monuments ; indeed, according^ 
to Plutarch, the fact that the ibis was wont to stand 
with straddled legs so as to form such a figure 
greatly added to its sacredness. In the background 
is the bull Apis, with what seems to be a decrescent 
moon (Ebers calls it a disc of the sun, Sonnenscheibe) 
over its back. The Egyptians worshipped two bulls, 
both sacred to Osiris, namely Mneuis at Heliopolis, 
and Apis at Memphis ; the sign of the former was 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 15 

the sun, and that of the latter the moon. Above 
the gateway, through which St. George is riding 
with the dragon squirming beneath his horse, are 
two birds having tails resembling the chrysalis of 
an insect, and it may be, as Ebers suggests, that 
they are the larva out of which the rejuvenated 
phoenix was supposed to emerge. It is possible, 
however, that these queer tails are merely the result 
of an awkward attempt to draw feathers. The 
anniversary of St. George, like that of Horus, is on 
the twenty-third of April, and there is not the 
slightest doubt that this canonized knight, who 
figures in hagiology as a Cappadocian prince and 
blessed martyr, owes his existence to the Christian- 
ization of an old Egyptian myth, which, after under- 
going this metamorphosis, migrated to Syria, where 
the saint is reputed to have been born in the city of 
Lydda, and thence gradually spread over all Asia 
Minor. Here the crusaders became familiar with 
the legend, adopted St George as their patron and 
pattern in waging the holy war against the Mussul- 
manic dragon, and brought him to Europe em- 
blazoned on their banners. 

It is highly probable, and indeed quite certain, 
that many ornamentations of Christian architecture, 
which are now merely traditional and conventional 
forms and perform a purely decorative function, 
might be traced to Egyptian and other Oriental 
sources, where they had distinct significance as 
signs and symbols. But it is not the purpose of the 
writer to undertake such a study in comparative 

1 6 Animal Symbolism 

symbology, nor are the materials necessary to its 
successful prosecution as yet available, notwith- 
standing the rapidly accumulating and extremely 
valuable results of recent researches in archaeology, 
ethnography, philology, and the critical comparison 
of religions. The aim of the present volume is a 
much simpler one, being an attempt to explain the 
meaning of the real or fabulous animals, which have 
been put to decorative uses in ecclesiastical archi- 
tecture, and thus to account for their admittance to 
sacred edifices. The book is intended to be suggest- 
ive rather than exhaustive, showing the origin and 
signification of the most prominent of these types 
and symbols, and indicating the direction in which 
further investigations are to be pursued. The 
founder or at least the most eminent representative 
of the Alexandrian School of allegorists was the 
Jewish philosopher Philo, who, as a mediator 
between Hebrew and Hellenic culture, endeavoured 
to discover the teachings of Pythagoras, Plato, and 
Aristotle esoterically concealed in the Mosaic 
records, by giving to the latter a far-fetched, figura- 
tive interpretation. This hermeneutical principle 
was adopted by Christian exegetists and apologists, 
especially by Clemens Alexandrinus in his Stro- 
mateus (patchwork or miscellany of Greek and 
Christian literature), and by Origen, who recognized 
in the Scriptures a threefold sense : literal or his- 
torical, moral or psychical, and mystical or pneu- 
matic. Cassian, in the fifth century, wrote a work 
entitled Collationes Patruiu Sceticoriim^ in which he 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 17 

states that there are four kinds of knowledge to be 
derived from Biblical study : historical, tropological, 
allegorical, and anagogical. The first of these, 
being for the most part perfectly plain, was of no 
importance ; only the last three deserve the name of 
spiritual knowledge {intelligentiam spiritualem) ; or, 
as Hrabanus Maurus expressed it four centuries 
later, the historical sense is milk for babes ; the 
tropological sense is nutriment suited to those more 
advanced in wisdom; the allegorical sense is the 
strong meat adapted to the robust souls whose 
faith is revealed in good works ; while the saintly 
persons, who despise all earthly joys and have fixed 
their affections wholly on heavenly things, are alone 
fit to receive the " wine of anagogical interpreta- 
tion " and to be edified thereby. This last and 
highest degree of spiritual discernment is beyond 
the reach of " the higher criticism," and, as Cassian 
observes, is not attainable by severe study and deep 
erudition, but comes from divine illumination pro- 
duced by fasting, prayer, and holy meditation. It 
is an enlightenment of the understanding proceeding 
from the purification of the heart, and not from 
poring over commentaries ; a lifting of the veil of 
the passions that obscure the mental vision. 

Not only was the Hebrew cosmogony allegorized 
and spiritualized, but the same method of exposi- 
tion was applied to the whole system of nature. 
Origen, in describing the process of creation, explains 
the creatures that fill the waters, the fowls of the air, 
and the creeping things as signifying good or evil 


1 8 Animal Symbolism 

thoughts and feelings, and calls special attention to 
the great whales as symbolizing violent passions 
and criminal impulses. In the hermeneutical Zr^;ra- 
hemera of Basil the Great and his brother Gregory 
of Nyssa this zoological typology is still more fully 
developed, and the various characteristics, popularly 
attributed to animals, served to enforce moral teach- 
ings or to illustrate theological tenets. More im- 
portant in this respect are the so-called Claves 
Scriptures Sacrce, which were to be used as keys 
not only for unlocking the spiritual treasures of 
Holy Writ, but also for disclosing the mystical 
meaning of all natural things, the Greek Physiologus, 
and the numerous mediaeval compilations and 
poetical productions based upon it, of which an 
account is given in the second and third chapters 
of this volume. These works contain an epitome 
of the mythical and symbolical zoology, botany, 
ornithology, and mineralogy gathered from many 
nations, and transmitted from the remotest times. 
Very early in the Christian era this traditional 
material infused itself into patristic literature, and 
thus gradually passed from rhetorical decoration in 
Christian homilies to artistic decoration in Christian 
architecture, where it found expression in fantastic 
and often monstrous forms, which can be under- 
stood only by tracing them to their sources in the 
superstitious notions of ancient and especially 
Oriental peoples. With the growth of religious 
scepticism and schism this symbolism gradually 
and almost imperceptibly merged into satire, so 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 19 

that it is often difficult to draw a line of demarca- 
tion between them. Mediaeval humour was coarse 
rather than keen, and better skilled in wielding 
bludgeons than in brandishing rapiers. Even the 
genius of Rabelais hardly suffices to relieve it of a, 
certain boorish grossness and brutality, and render 
it thoroughly enjoyable to the refined and fastidious 
modern reader. The satire of the period of the 
Reformation was of the same bitter and abusive 
style. Luther's wit was notoriously nasty, and 
even the gentle Melanchthon was capable of in- 
dulging in a strain of sarcasm which any cultivated 
man of to-day would reprobate as extremely 
vulgar. It must be remembered, however, that this 
coarseness was a characteristic of the age, and is 
not to be regarded as a mark of intrinsic vile- 
ness or individual depravity. It was something 
wholly external, a mode of expression by no 
means inconsistent with a robust virtue, as far 
removed from prudishness as from pruriency. In 
our time the fiercest theological polemic would 
hardly venture to lampoon and caricature his 
opponents as the reformers of the sixteenth century 
did the see of Rome, nor would the most rabid 
apostle of Anti-Semitism seek to propagate his 
views by adorning Christian churches and other 
public edifices with filthy sculptures derisive of 
the Jews. 

In the volume now offered to the public the author 
has endeavoured to show the rise and evolution of 
this symbolism, and its transition to satire as seen in 

20 Animal Symbolism 

Christian art, although, as already stated, he is very 
far from claiming to have exhausted the subject. 
The illustrations are derived partly from the bes- 
tiaries printed by Cahier in the second volume of 
his Melanges d'Arch^ologie, partly from a parch- 
ment manuscript psalter of Isabella of France in the 
Royal Library of Munich, and partly from eccle- 
siastical edifices. The appended bibliography, 
taken in connection with the references given in 
the body of the work, will be found to contain 
the principal sources of information. 

In conclusion, I wish to express my hearty thanks 
to Hrn. Dr. Laubmann, Director of the K. Hof- und 
Staatsbibliothek in Munich, Bavaria, as well as to 
the other custodians of that library, for the uniform 
kindness and cordiality shown in admitting me to 
the privileges and in facilitating the use of that 
magnificent collection of printed books and manu- 



Impulse given to the study of natural history by Alexander 
the Great — Scientific spirit fostered by Aristotle — Lack 
of this spirit among the Romans — Alexandria as a centre 
of learning under the Ptolemies — The Christian theory of 
the relation of the Book of Revelation to the Book of 
Nature — The patristic conception of the visible creation 
as an image of the invisible world and a mirror of spiritual 
truth — Animals as religious emblems in Oriental, and 
especially in Buddhistic, literature — Mineralogical sym- 
bolism — Magical and medical properties and religious 
significance of precious stones — Legends of Solomon's 
wisdom, and his method of building the Temple — Cere- 
mony of blessing jewels — Speculations of Justinus Kemer 
and Schubert concerning the occult affinities of the mineral 
kingdom to man — ^The typology of precious stones accord- 
ing to i}a&Physiologus — Spiritual meaning of the diamond, 
the pearl, and the Indian stone — Terrobuli in Christian 
symbolism and architecture. 

Alexander the Great, in addition to his mili- 
tary exploits and political achievements, also gave 
a new impulse and direction to the development of 
natural history in Greece by supplying his tutor, 
Aristotle, with specimens and more or less accurate 
descriptions of animals native to the lands he had 
conquered. By means of the material thus obtained 


22 Animal Symbolism 

the peripatetic philosopher was enabled to extend his 
researches beyond the confines of his own country, 
and to correct many false and fantastic notions 
that had hitherto prevailed concerning exotic, and 
especially Oriental, fauna, and thus became — at 
least in a relative and restricted sense — the founder 
of systematic zoology in the modern signification 
of the term. His predecessors, as well as his 
contemporaries, had been wont to speculate about 
animals chiefly from moral, religious, poetic, artistic, 
didactic, humoristic, satirical, sentimental, and 
superstitious points of view, and to prize the lessons 
of prudence and piety and wisdom which they 
were supposed to inculcate ; but the Stagirite was 
the first to study them from a strictly scientific 
point of view. 

Still, the scientific field, which Aristotle culti- 
vated with such assiduous care and with so fruitful 
results, formed only a small evergreen spot, stand- 
ing oasis-like in the midst of a wide waste of wild 
conjectures and sterile speculations. Tyrtamus 
of Lesbos, surnamed Theophrastus, his favourite 
pupil and chosen successor as head of the peripa- 
tetic school, followed in the footsteps of the great 
master in this field of investigation, and aimed at 
the acquisition of positive knowledge by means of 
exact methods in the study of nature. Unfortu- 
nately, however, the fabulous stories related by 
Ktesias and Megasthenes in their voluminous de- 
scriptions of India and Persia appealed more 
powerfully to the imagination, and gratified in a 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 23 

higher degree the popular love of the marvellous, 
than the sober records of accurate observation, and 
therefore acquired far greater currency. 

The Romans brought beasts from the remotest 
provinces of the empire, not because they felt any 
rational or scientific interest in them, but solely 
in order to increase the pomp and splendour of 
military triumphs, or to minister to the barbarous 
and bloody sports of the amphitheatre. According 
to Petronius, the Marmaric deserts and the Moorish 
forests were scoured for the purpose of procuring 
ferocious animals to fight in the arena with each 
other, or with trained gladiators in horrible combat. 
" The ships from foreign shores," he says, " are 
crowded with fierce tigers confined in gilded cages, 
and destined to drink human blood to the frantic 
plaudits of the populace." 

When Cicero was proconsul in Cilicia, he received 
an urgent letter from the aedile Coelius, imploring 
him to send as speedily as possible a cargo of 
panthers, which were to be used as a "campaign 
fund " for electioneering purposes. As a means of 
winning the suffrages of the rabble this sort of ex- 
penditure was probably more efficient, and certainly 
more open and exciting than the modern system of 
distributing "bunched" ballots, or of purchasing 
venal voters " in blocks of five." To this entreaty 
Cicero replied that he would do his best to comply 
with the request of his friend, and thus contribute 
to the success of his candidacy, but that owing to 
the energy and skill of many lovers of the chase. 

24 Animal Symbolism 

and especially of a certain Patiscus, these beasts 
of venery were very scarce, having fled for safety 
from his consular province into Caria. If we may 
believe their own statements, the Romans accom- 
plished wonders in training beasts and birds for 
private amusement or for spectacular entertain- 
ments. Their passion for pet animals was a matter 
of fashion, a mere "fad"; and Cato bitterly censured 
the degeneracy of the times, when ladies frequented 
the market-place fondling lap-dogs, and dandies 
strutted about with parrots perched on their wrists. 
These birds were kept in cages of gold and silver 
and tortoise-shell, and taught to shout the name of 
the reigning emperor. The lion learned to play 
with hares, catching them in frolic and letting them 
go, and rabbits ran and took refuge in its jaws as 
in their burrow. Martial, who describes these per- 
formances, adds, in obsequious flattery of Domitian, 
that this gentleness and docility of savage beasts 
are due less to the art of the tamer {domator) than 
to awe of the emperor {imperator), "for the lions 
know whom they serve." The same poet informs 
us that eagles were made to act on the sta^e, 
taking a boy up into the air without doing htm' 
any harm,. in realistic representation of the rape of 
Ganymede on Mount Ida — 

" ^thereas aguila puerum portante per auras 
lUoesum timidis unquibus hsesit onus." ' 

Ep. Lib. i. 7. 

In view of this almost exclusively amphitheatrical 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 25 

and utterly brutalizing relation of the Romans to 
the animal world, it is not surprising to find in the 
Natural History of Pliny an encyclopaedic compi- 
lation of current traditions and popular supersti- 
tions, instead of a record of actual observations and 
scientific conclusions. In short, the Romans do 
not appear to have made any contributions what- 
ever to natural science, although the vast extent of 
their dominions afforded them an excellent oppor- 
tunity for such investigations. Not even in the 
great didactic poem of the keen-witted Lucretius, 
De Rerum Natura, do we discover any distinct 
traces of the Aristotelian method of inquiry. The 
achievements of Roman thought were in politics, 
and the cognate department of jurisprudence. 

During the reign of the Ptolemies, as well as 
under the rule of Roman prefects, Alexandria was 
celebrated, not only as the chief commercial centre 
of the world, but also as a cosmopolitan seat of 
learning, and the principal avenue of intellectual 
communication between the East and the West. 
Indeed, Egyptian monarchs — at least from the ac- 
cession of the Nineteenth Dynasty, sixteen cen- 
turies before the Christian era — seem to have had a 
peculiar passion for establishing museums of curi- 
osities, menageries of exotic beasts and birds, and 
other collections of rare and abnormal productions 
of nature. The ninth Ptolemy, Euergetes II., sur- 
named Physkon (Gorbelly), wrote a book full of 
curious information about such things. His great 
aim, however, was not to discover and record facts. 

26 Animal Symbolism 

but to recount wonders, and he is therefore well 
characterized by Pitra in his Spicilegium Soles- 
mense as a " rerum mirabilium curiosissimus inves- 
tigator." It was the mirabilia, or marvels of nature, 
that attracted his attention and stimulated his re- 
searches. This sovereign was so zealous in pro- 
curing works for the Alexandrian libraries (the 
Bruchium Museum and the Serapeum) that he not 
only sent special emissaries into foreign countries 
to purchase them at high prices, but was also ac- 
customed to take away from travellers any valuable 
manuscripts in their possession and add them to 
the public collections, giving in return a copy of 
the book thus arbitrarily appropriated. 

Alexandrian learning embraced unquestionably 
a wide range of topics, among which medicine, 
anatomy, mathematics, astronomy, and geography 
held a prominent place, but the study of botany, 
mineralogy, and zoology were carried on in an 
■extremely superficial and desultory manner, and 
chiefly for the purpose of discovering in plants, 
stones, and animals the occult and magical proper- 
ties and " strange and vigorous faculties " with 
which they were supposed to be endowed. Of the 
cautious and critical study and scrutiny of nature, 
and the essentially scientific spirit which character- 
ized the Aristotelian method of research, these 
scholars appear to have had little or no conception. 

It was also in the Greco-Judaic schools of 
Alexandria that Christian theology was developed 
-as the resultant of the contact and conflict of the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 27 

Hebrew with the Hellenic intellect. From the 
Christian point of view, the Bible was recognized 
as the only true source of knowledge. The sacred 
volume was assumed to contain unerring informa- 
tion on all subjects whatsoever, provided one could 
ascertain its real meaning, which was often wrapped 
up and hidden in allegories and obscure similitudes 
and symbolisms, like precious treasures kept in 
caskets under intricate locks, and concealed in 
dark places. Hence the supreme importance of 
hermeneutics as the science of sciences, the master- 
key, which opens all the secrets of the universe, 
and reveals all the mysteries of nature. 

It is said of Solomon that "he spake of trees 
from the cedar that is in Lebanon, even unto the 
hyssop that springeth out of the wall ; he spake also 
of beasts and of fowl, and of creeping things and of 
fishes." We are not justified, however, in assuming 
that he discoursed of natural history in the modern 
sense of the term, or that he was familiar with 
botany, zoology, ornithology, entomology, and 
ichthyology, as we understand these sciences. His 
knowledge of plants and of animals did not differ 
in kind from that of his contemporaries and of the 
age in which he lived ; he was superior to others 
only in possessing a sturdier common-sense and 
shrewder skill, in applying this current lore to 
human life and conduct, in apothegmatic illustration 
of the folly or wisdom of mankind. What we call 
the book of nature was to him a vast and many- 
volumed treatise on all phases and features of 

28 Animal Symbolism 

human nature, in which the world of lower 
creatures was held up to man as a moral mirror, 
in order that he might see therein the reflections 
of his own vices and virtues. 

In the development and enforcement of this idea 
patristic theologians surpassed the prophets and 
sages of the Old Testament, and even the subtle 
scribes and quibbling rabbis, resolving the external 
universe into a mere body of divinity or system of 
Christian doctrine, written in cipher, which it was 
the function of the exegetist to interpret so as to 
bring it into harmony with divine revelation, and 
make it illustrative and confirmatory of Holy Writ. 
According to Origen " the visible world teaches us 
concerning the invisible ; the earth contains images 
of heavenly things, in order that by means of 
these lower objects we may mount up to that 
which is above. . . . As God made man in His 
own image and after His own likeness, so He created 
the lower animals after the likeness of heavenly 

This conception of the physical world as a 
symbol of spiritual truth is only one form in which 
the ascetic contempt of the body, as a clog and 
cumbrance to the soul and a hindrance of holy as- 
pirations, took expression. The cosmos or material 
body of the universe, like the carnal body of the 
individual, must be sanctified by its spiritualization 
and virtual expression. Paul's statement that "the 
invisible things of Him (God) from the creation of 
the world are clearly seen, being understood by the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 29 

things that are made," was thought to be a 
distinct assertion and ample justification of this 
theory, which rendered even the heathen, to whom 
the gospel had not been revealed, "without 

The Talmud declares that " he who interprets the 
scripture literally is a liar and a blasphemer." This 
exegetical principle is, however, not exclusively 
Talmudic, but underlies and pervades more or less 
completely all hermeneutical literature. This atti- 
tude of mind arises from the fact that sacred 
books, which are accepted and transmitted from 
generation to generation as infallible and therefore 
unchangeable records and repositories of truth, can 
keep pace with the progress of human thought, 
and adapt themselves to the growth of knowledge, 
so as to maintain their hold upon the morally and 
intellectually advancing races of mankind, only by 
voluntarily laying aside all claims to strict and 
literal accuracy, and taking refuge in allegorical 
and symbolical interpretations. 

According to the biblical story the fall of man 
involved the alteration and corruption of the whole 
creation, including all forms of animal and vege- 
table life, and extending even to the soil itself, 
which thenceforth showed a perverse prolificacy 
in bringing forth thorns and brambles and every 
species of noxious weed. These lower organisms 
were also embraced in the Christian scheme of 
redemption, and are represented as looking forward 
with painful longing to its completion, and their 

3© Animal Symbolism 

consequent release from the degrading penalties of 
human transgression. 

Indeed, one of the most conspicuous signs of 
the successful issue and perfect consummation of 
the Atonement is to be the disappearance of all 
antipathies between savage beasts and their natural 
prey : the lion will lay aside his fierce animosities 
and carnivorous appetites, lying down with the 
lamb, and eating straw like the bullock in token 
of jiis regeneration, and universal peace will be 
restored. Satan will be dethroned as the prince 
of this world, and the earth resume its pristine 
state of Edenic innocence and paradisean purity. 

Thus the present condition and ultimate destiny 
of mankind were supposed to be reflected frag- 
mentarily in the lower animals as in a shattered 
mirror ; and it was from this source that the early 
Christian evangelists and patristic theologians were 
especially fond of drawing illustrations of spiritual 
truths and elucidations of scriptural texts. The 
words of Job : " Ask the beast and it will teach 
thee, and the birds of heaven and they will tell 
thee," were assumed to furnish sufficient ground 
for regarding the entire animal kingdom as a mere 
collection of types and symbols of religious dogmcis 
and Christian virtues. The apocalyptic monsters 
of St. John the Divine were also cited as a pre- 
cedent warranting the wildest vagaries of zoological 

In Oriental literature, and especially in the sacred 
books of the East, nothing is more common than 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 31 

to put animals to rhetorical, metaphorical, and 
emblematical uses, and to hold them up to the 
religious man as models for imitation. Compari- 
sons and correspondencies of this kind were natur- 
ally suggested by the doctrine of metempsychosis, 
in which they have a psychological basis, and from 
which they derive a peculiar force and cogency, 
wholly foreign to Occidental habits of thought and 

Thus the Buddhist ascetic is told to pattern in 
austerity and humility after the ass, which is con- 
tent to sleep by the roadside in the outskirts of 
the village, on a dust-heap, a bed of chaff, or a 
layer of leaves. He is also enjoined to take heed 
to the squirrel, which, when assailed, uses its tail 
as a cudgel against its enemies, and to ward off 
carnal affections and spiritual foes with the staff 
of steady and earnest meditation. When he goes 
forth with his begging bowl, he should wrap 
himself in the vesture of meekness and moral 
restraint, that he may be free from fear and from 
worldly contamination, as the white ant covers itself 
with a leaf when it goes in quest of food. The 
scorpion has a sting in its tail, which it bears erect ; 
in like manner the religious man should wield the 
sword of knowledge, and thereby render himself 
invincible. In the burning heat of summer the 
pig betakes itself to a pond ; so the devotee, when 
his soul is scorched and inflamed by evil passions, 
should have recourse to the cool, refreshing, and 
ambrosial exercise of universal kindliness. Again, 

32 Animal Symbolism 

the hog, having gone to a marsh or swamp, digs a 
trough in the earth and lies therein ; so the yogi 
should bury his body in the trough of his mind 
by means of profound and passionless meditation. 
The owl is the mortal enemy of crows, and is 
wont to repair to their nests at night and kill their 
young ; in like manner the religious mendicant is 
the foe of ignorance, and plucks it out of his mind 
and destroys it before it has become inveterate. 
Like the owl, too, he loves seclusion and the quiet 
favourable to calm reflection. The leech sucks 
itself fast to whatever it touches, and gorges itself 
with blood ; so the yogi holds firmly to whatever 
he fixes his thoughts upon, and drinks in the 
never-cloying fulness of Nirvana. The spider 
spins its web to catch flies ; the yogi spreads the 
net of unbroken contemplation before the six 
avenues of the senses, and takes captive and 
destroys every lust that seeks to enter into the 
mind. Those who have become the slaves of the 
passions live wholly in them, moving about in a 
world of illusions, the creation of their own desires, 
as the spider runs to and fro on the filaments of 
the web, which it has spun out of its own bowels. 
The process of regeneration and emancipation from 
the allurements of the senses and the trammels of 
the flesh is compared to the action of the snake in 
casting its skin. He who is content with sensual 
pleasures is like a hog wallowing in the mire and 
glutted with wash. The elephant is the type of 
patient endurance, self-restraint. Buddha himself 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 33 

is likened to a well-tamed (suddnta) elephant, and 
is often spoken of as the great elephant {inakdndgd). 
Another symbol of the pious recluse, who has re- 
nounced the world, is the rhinoceros, because it 
loves to dwell alone and remote from its kind. 

Even inanimate things are moralized and made 
to represent spiritual states. Thus the jug {kuin- 
bho), which emits no sound when it is full, em- 
blematizes the man who is full of knowledge, and 
walks humbly and soberly in the " path " {dharma- 
patfid), avoiding vain boastings and garrulousness 
and noisy ostentation. This idea is expressed in 
the following lines from the Suttanipata : 

" Loudly brawls the shallow run, 
But the stream that's deep is dumb. 
Noise betrays the empty tun ; 
From the full no sound doth come. 
Empty pitchers like are fools ; 
Wise men are the full, clear pools." 

The same figure of speech occurs in T^ Lover 
of Sir Walter Raleigh : 

" Passions are likened best to floods and streams. 
The shallow murmurs, while the deeps are dumb.'' 

In these comparisons and injunctions the common 
qualities and most conspicuous characteristics of 
the animals, which the holy man is admonished to 
imitate, are lost sight of, and only certain fanciful 
attributes considered. In common parlance it 
would not be flattering to speak of a saint meta- 
phorically as an ass, a hog, a leech, or a scorpion. 


34 Animal Symbolism 

This comical disregard of the prominent points of 
resemblance, which would be most naturally sug- 
gested by the simile, is not confined to Buddhistic 
writings, but, as we shall see hereafter, constantly 
occurs in Christian hermeneutical and homiletical 
literature, and often renders it very funny reading. 

It was also in the Orient that a sort of mineral- 
ogical symbolism, based upon certain magical and 
magnetic qualities supposed to be peculiar to 
precious stones, was first and most fully developed. 
Jewels were worn originally, and are still worn in 
Eastern countries, as prophylactics and talismans 
rather than as mere ornaments. Their purpose 
was not so much to adorn as to protect the person, 
preventing disease and warding off malign in- 
fluences, and they were therefore prized more for 
their occult virtue than for their brilliancy and 
beauty. In Europe, too, they constituted an im- 
portant part of mediaeval pharmacopoeias, and were 
to be found side by side with mummy dust, "eye 
of newt and toe of frog," and many nasty and 
nauseous compounds in every well-regulated apothe- 
cary's shop. Popular superstition has not yet 
ceased to endow bufonite or toadstone with 
wonderful medical and necromantic properties. 

The urim and thummim (light and perfection) 
in the breastplate of the Jewish high-priest were 
precious stones remarkable for their luminousness 
and purity, and, like the sacred scarabseus worn by 
the Egyptian hierophant, had a mystical meaning 
and were consulted as oracles. In what manner 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 35 

the divine will was communicated through them is 
not known ; it is probable that the priest by stead- 
fastly gazing on them was throwii into an ecstatic 
or hypnotic state, in which he saw visions, and 
uttered words that were interpreted as divine 
inspirations and supernatural illuminations. 

It is curious to note to what extent the onee 
universal belief in the amuletic efficacy of gems 
still survives in modern life and literature. Thus 
the amethyst, as its name implies, neutralized the 
intoxicating properties of alcohol, and was therefore 
wrought into cups, from which one could quaff the 
strongest liquors in the largest draughts without 
getting drunk. It was also supposed, perhaps in 
consequence of this anti-inebriant quality, to render 
a man energetic and diligent in business and to 
insure peace of mind. The agate disenvenomed 
the sting of serpents and scorpions, and when worn 
on the left hand made its possessor winsome and 
wise; if placed under the pillow it produced 
pleasant dreams. 

Boccaccio says in the Decameron, that "the 
heliotrope is a stone of such strange virtue that it 
causes the bearer of it to be completely concealed 
from the sight of all present." This power was 
also ascribed to the plant of the same name. 
Dante describes the spirits of the damned in the 
seventh circle of hell as running to and fro naked 
and affrighted without hope of hole or heliotrope : 

" Senza sperar pertugio o elitropia." , 

36 Animal Symbolism 

In other words, they found no cleft in which to 
hide, and had no heliotrope to render them in- 
visible. The reference here is not to the plant, but 
to the mineral. The ruby absorbed morbid humours, 
and was an antidote for catarrh and unrequited 
love; no wonder then that it also made a man 
socially attractive and companionable. The car- 
buncle protected the wearer against the fatal look 
of the basilisk and the fascinations of the evil eye, 
counteracted the virulence of poisons, purified the 
air from pestilential vapours, and, when worn as a 
necklace, was preventive of epilepsy. Chalcedony 
imparted moral strength and courage to resist all 
evil enticements ; the variety of it known as car- 
nelian was believed to be effective in cheering the 
heart by its soothing action on the bile and the 
blood. The topaz kept the soul pure and chaste, 
and is etymologically related to the Sanskrit tapas, 
a general term for the purifying process by which 
the Indian ascetic purges his spirit and frees him- 
self from sensual desires and worldly affections. 
It was thought to exert a calming influence upon 
lunatics, and, if thrown into a boiling pot, to stop 
ebullition. With a topaz in his armpit, a person 
was deemed capable of passing unsinged through 
the hottest flames, and undergoing with safety the 
severest ordeal of fire ; for this reason witches were 
carefully examined before being burned, lest they 
might have recourse to this means of impunity. 
This stone was often given as a mark of friendship, 
and especially as a pledge of troth, since it was 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 37 

supposed to promote fidelity. The lapis lazuli was 
used as a necklace for children, because it made 
them fearless and truthful; corals were employed 
in the same manner, because they warded off 
sorcerous arts and withstood the powers of witch- 
craft. Jasper produced clearness and keenness of 
vision, stanched blood, healed dropsy and dyspepsia, 
and was an effective febrifuge. Chrysoprase cured 
heart-affections both physical and mental. Beryl 
acted as a cholagogue, and as a natural result of 
its cathartic and tonic qualities developed a cheer- 
ful and courageous spirit. Rock-crystal or "ice- 
stone," as it was popularly called, quenched thirst, 
prevented vertigo, and enabled women to suckle 
their children. The necklace of clear rock-ciystal, 
still commonly worn by wet-nurses, is a survival of 
the belief in the lactific virtue of this variety of 
limpid quartz. 

The association of precious stones with the 
months of the year as amulets and promoters of 
good fortune seems to have originated at an early 
date in Arabia. In accordance with this notion 
the hyacinth or red zircon was worn in January, 
the amethyst in February, the heliotrope or blood- 
stone in March, the sapphire and diamond in April, 
the emerald in May, the agate in June, the carnelian 
in July, the onyx in August, the chrysolite in Sep- 
tember, the aqua marine and opal in October, the 
topaz in November, and the chrysoprase and 
turquoise in December. Thus the magic power of 
the stones serve to protect their wearers, and to 

38 Animal Symbolism 

communicate to them the hidden properties with 
which these gems were supposed to be endowed. 
In modern literature this theme has been treated 
most fully and suggestively, perhaps, by Theodor 
Komer in his poem Die Monatssteine, written in 
1 8 10. 

Far more important for our present purpose than 
the magical and medical properties of precious 
stones is their significance as symbols of theological 
doctrines and Christian graces. In a mediaeval 
German poem "Concerning the Heavenly Jeru- 
salem" (Diemer: Deutsche Gedichte, pp. 361-372), 
based on the treatise De Lapidibus of Marbodius, 
and on the twenty-first chapter of Revelation, we 
have a theological mineralogy corresponding to the 
theological zoology of the Physiologus. The two 
verses (Rev. xxi. 19, 20) that make mention of the 
twelve stones with which the foundations of the 
wall of the mystical city were garnished, are 
expanded into more than two hundred lines of the 
poem, consisting chiefly of extremely far-fetched 
allegory. Thus jasper is the foundation of the 
Church, and acts as a preservative against hurtful 
phantasms and devilish wiles ; it is of a green 
colour, and signifies those who foster the faith, 
never letting it wither away and grow dry and 
dead, but always keeping it alive. Sapphire has 
a heavenly hue, and symbolizes those who, although 
on the earth, have their thoughts fixed on heavenly 
things. Chalcedony shows its lustre only in the 
open air, and typifies those who fast and pray in 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 39 

secret, but whose righteousness shines forth among 
nnien. Emerald is native to a cold and arid region, 
inhabited only by griffins and one-eyed men 
{monocult), who are constantly fighting for the 
possession of this stonp. It surpasses all gems and 
herbs in greenness, and symbolizes the freshness 
and vigour of Christian piety as opposed to the 
coldness and barrenness of infidelity. The griffins 
are the demons that, in the form of winged lions, 
flew aloft on the pinions of pride and fell from 
heaven into the abyss of hell for their misdeeds. 
Their monoculous antagonists are those who do 
not walk in two ways, are not double-dealing, do 
not serve two masters, are not given to duplicity, 
but who have an eye single to the glory of God, 
are single-minded, seeking with oneness of purpose 
to hold fast the jewel of faith, which the demons 
would wrest from them. Sardonyx has three 
colours, black below, white in the middle, and red 
above ; it is a type of those who suffer for. Christ's 
sake, and, although pure and spotless, are vile and 
sinful in their own eyes. Sardius is deep red, and 
signifies the blood of the martyrs. Chrysolite 
glistens like gold and emits scintillations, and is an 
emblem of those who let their light shine in word 
and deed. Beryl glitters like the sea in the sun- 
light, and illustrates the illuminating power of the 
divine spirit. After interpreting in this manner 
the symbolism of the other stones, topaz, chryso- 
prasus, jacinth, and amethyst, on which the New 
Jerusalem is built, the poet turns homilist, and 

40 Animal Symbolism 

warns his readers that they can enter the heavenly 
city only by practising the virtues which the stones 
shadow forth : 

" Nu habent ir alle wol uemomen, 
Wi ir in di burch sculet chomen." 

No doubt this symbolism is utterly fantastic and 
absurd, and would be hardly worthy of notice were 
it not for the fact that it holds a prominent place 
in sacred art, and determines, to a considerable 
degree, the kinds of stones used in ecclesiastical 
architecture, as well as in ornamenting sacerdotal 
vestments, crucifixes, rosaries, chalices, and other 
sacramental utensils. 

Speculations of this sort began to pervade Chris- 
tian hermeneutic theology at a very early period, 
and are traceable in the oldest apocryphal litera- 
ture of the New Testament. In the latter half of 
the fourth century Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, 
wrote a book " On the Twelve Stones in Aaron's 
Robes," and another " On the Twelve Stones set 
in the Priest's Breastplate." The same allegorical 
spirit of interpretation is shown by Anselm, Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, and by Ambrosius, in their 
commentaries on the Apocalypse. 

A similar tendency manifests itself in the sym- 
bolical and analogical use of numbers, which sought 
to trace a recondite relation between the seven seals 
of the Apocalypse, the seven petitions of the Pater 
Noster, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven 
beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, the seven 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 41 

sacraments, the seven prototypes in the Old Testa- 
ment, the seven heavens, the seven days of creation, 
the seven ages of man, the seven liberal arts, the 
seven signs marking the birth of Christ, and many 
other sevenfold things. This subject is fully treated 
in an old poem entitled Detis Septiformis, or the 
Septiform God. 

A curious specimen of biblical exegesis in a 
poem of the eleventh century, called Praise of 
Solomon (Diemer, pp. 107-114), explains how it 
was possible to construct the Temple so that " there 
was neither hammer nor axe, nor any tool of iron 
heard in the house while it was building." A 
dragon, which had caused a severe drought by 
drinking all the water in the springs and wells of 
Jerusalem, evaded every effort to capture it until 
Solomon ordered the empty wells and cisterns to 
be filled with a mixture of wine and mead. As 
the result of this stratagem the beast became so 
intoxicated that it was easily taken and fettered. 
On recovering from its drunkenness it promised 
the king that if he would set it free, it would tell 
him how he could complete the Temple without 
the unpleasant din and clatter of masons and car- 
penters. The wise sovereign accepted this pro- 
posal, and learned that there was an animal on 
Mount Lebanon, with the entrails of which one 
could cut the hardest stones. Hunters were sent 
out, who succeeded in killing this wonderful crea- 
ture, and by means of its intestines the workmen 
were able to construct the edifice as by enchant- 

42 Animal Symbolism 

ment. The poet then describes the splendours of 
Solomon's court, to which an allegorical interpret- 
ation is given : Solomon is God, who created the 
world noiselessly, and in a breath, the Queen of 
Sheba is the Church, and the courtiers and nobles 
are priests and bishops. The author gives as his 
authority for this exegesis a gentleman called Hier- 
onymus {ein herro hiz heronimus), evidently referring 
to the famous ascetic and saint of the fourth century. 
Indeed, the term " herro " is admirably suited to 
the character of this remarkable man, who com- 
bined the austerity of the monk with the elegance 
of the man of the world, and thereby rendered 
himself so attractive to the fine ladies of Roman 
society that many of them exchanged their rich 
apparel and luxurious homes for a hair-shirt and. 
an anchoretic life in the desert. 

Pineda, in his Salomon Prcevius, published in 
eight books at Mayence in 1813, describes a worm 
called samir, whose blood had the property of soften- 
ing stones and glass, so that they could be cut and 
carved like wax. This discovery, we are told, was 
made accidentally by Solomon, who kept a young 
ostrich in a glass cage ; but the parent bird brought 
the samir from the desert, and by means of its blood 
cut the glass and set the captive free. This circum- 
stance was reported to Solomon, who made further 
experiments with this substance, and invented a new 
process of working in marble and engraving gems. 
According to another account, Solomon had a 
plant which had been brought to him by a foreign 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 43 

embassy, the juice of which possessed the same 
lithotomic qualities. These legends arose evidently 
as inferences from the passages already quoted 
concerning the wise king's vast knowledge of 
natural history and his method of building the 
Temple. The Hebrew monarch got the credit of 
all the marvellous stories of this kind which were 
current in the middle ages, for the same reason 
that mediaeval chronicles made Charlemagne the 
hero of all feats of valour and deeds of chivalry ; 
and American newspapers ascribe all good jokes 
afloat to Abraham Lincoln. 

The ceremony of blessing jewels used to be per- 
formed by the kings of England in Westminster 
Abbey on Good Friday, and was supposed to im- 
part to these precious stones a still greater healing 
power peculiarly efficacious in curing cramps and 
epilepsy. But long before this custom came to 
be observed, jewels, as we have already seen, played 
an important part in ancient and mediaeval materia 
medica as antidotes and amulets, and especially 
as antitoxicons. In a didactic poem entitled Be 
Gemmis, and written by Marbodius, Bishop of 
Rennes, in the latter half of the eleventh century, 
more than sixty precious stones are mentioned, and 
their properties described ; the work is, however, 
chiefly a compilation and Christianization of the 
opinions of Aristotle, Pliny, Galen, Isidore, Diosco- 
rides, Avicenna, and other authorities on this sub- 
ject, since his sole aim is religious instruction and 

44 Animal Symbolism 

A German poet of the thirteenth century, Der 
Strieker, ridicules the popular belief in the magical 
and medicinal virtues of precious stones as a foolish 
superstition, and thus shows himself to have been 
far in advance not only of the ignorant masses, 
but also of the cultured classes and scholars of 
his day. 

Among modern writers Justinus Kerner has 
devoted himself most earnestly to this province 
of investigation and speculation. He maintains 
that in primitive times, when man lived under 
simpler conditions and nearer to nature than at 
present, he was far more susceptible to her subtle 
influences, so that " even the spirit of the stone, now 
grown dull and sluggish, was capable of affecting 
him." Modern culture, he adds, has materialized 
man, and "swathed his soul in a threefold girdle 
of grossness, so that only mechanical and chemical 
forces can act upon it; for this reason he is now 
driven to the use of poisons, the strongest elements 
in the three realms of nature, as medicaments and 
healing remedies, they alone being able to pene- 
trate the insulating earthy mass which prevents 
spirit from operating directly upon spirit." If 
stones, he continues, do not manifest the same 
virtues now as formerly, the fault is in ourselves. 
In our present vitiated state they exert their real 
and inherent powers only when we are under the 
influence of magnetism, which corresponds, in a 
certain degree, to the original and normal condition 
of mankind, since it renders the soul more free from 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 45 

the bondage of the body. Stones nowadays pro- 
duce upon magnetized persons the same effects that 
were ascribed to them in ancient times, for ex- 
ample in the Orphic Lithiaka, where it is said 
that nature has endued them with greater virtues 
than roots or herbs. The same view is expressed 
by Schubert in his Natural History, where the 
mineral kingdom is represented as a realm full of 
occult affinities and spiritual suggestions, and mys- 
tical relations to the microcosm, man. Schubert 
also declares that the secret and subtle properties 
of stones affect the human organism most power- 
fully when it is in a magnetic or somnambulic 

In the Physiologus (the character and contents 
of which will be fully considered in a subsequent 
chapter), as well as in mediaeval bestiaries, we find 
the queerest exegetical applications of these super- 
stitious notions intermingled with utterly irrelevant 
citations of Holy Writ, such as one would now 
hear only from the lips of a Hard^Shell Baptist 
preacher or an old plantation negro exhorter. 
Thus the diamond, or adamant as it is called, is 
taken as the type of Christ, because it shines in 
the dark, as it is written in Isaiah : " The people 
that walked in darkness have seen a great light; 
they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, 
upon them hath the light shined." Again, we are 
told that the diamond is so hard that neither iron 
nor stone can penetrate it, but it penetrates all sub- 
stances, "for all things were made by Him, and 

46 Animal Symbolism 

without Him was not anything made that was 
made." Likewise the apostles have said of it: "I 
saw a man upon a wall of adamant, and in his 
hand a stone of adamant." (Here the apostles 
are confounded with the prophets, as the quota- 
tion is from the Septuagint version of Amos vii. 7.) 
We are furthermore informed that "the diamond 
can be cut and polished only after it has been 
soaked in the warm blood of a he-goat." In this 
case the he-goat is typical of the crucified Christ, 
and the diamond represents the hardness of a world 
stubborn in sin, which nothing but the warm blood 
of the Saviour can render tractable and reformable. 
As early as the third century St. Cyprian, Bishop 
of Carthage, in his Liber de Duplici Martyrio, 
accepts this notion on the authority of the natural- 
ists of his day, and uses it to illustrate the efficacy 
of the Atonement. " Those who are versed in the 
knowledge of natural things tell us that adamant 
does not yield to the hardness of steel, and can be 
malleated only after being macerated in the blood 
of a he-goat. But no adamant is harder than the 
stony heart of the sinner ; nevertheless the blood of 
Christ softens this stony heart, this iron heart, this 
heart harder than adamant." In this way the 
marvels of the material creation were made to 
elucidate the mysteries of the spiritual world, and 
to confirm the truths of divine revelation. The 
Physiologus also asserts that no demon can enter 
a house or habitation of man in which there is 
a diamond, and adds : " So it is with the heart 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture '47 

wherein Christ dwells, whose presence protects 
it against all approaches and assaults of the 

It is said of the pearl-fishers, that they attach an 
agate to a cord and let it down into the sea, where 
it is drawn towards the pearls by a mysterious 
attraction, so that by following the cord the fishers 
discover them and remove them from their shells. 
Here the agate typifies John the Baptist, who 
pointed the way to the pearl of great price, saying : 
" Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the 
sin of the world." The author then tells how the 
pearl is produced. The sea-creature, which con- 
tains this precious substance, is described as having 
two appendages like wings, and has therefore been 
mistaken for a bird ; it is evident, however, that 
a bivalve is meant. Just before the dawn this 
oyster coiiies out of the deep water to the shore, 
and, opening its shell, receives a drop of dew 
from heaven, which the rays of the rising sun 
change into a pearl. The reader would naturally 
expect this story to be a symbolism of the Incarna- 
tion or the Immaculate Conception; but the writer 
indulges in an elaborate theological, or rather eccle- 
siastical, interpretation, in which the sea is the 
world, the fishers are the saints and doctors of the 
Church, and the bivalve stands foi; the Old and 
New Testaments joined together into one Bible or 
Book of Revelation, and containing the pure pearls 
of divine truth. As we shall have occasion to 
observe, the similitudes of the Pkysiologus are not 

48 Animal Symbolism 

only hopelessly and often ludicrously mixed, but 
readily shift at every turn of thought like the 
figures of a kaleidoscope. 

Dante in one of his sonnets (xxxv.) uses a 
metaphor based on this theory of the genesis of 
the pearl in a modified form, and implying that 
it is an emanation of the stars : come de stella 
margherita. A mediaeval Spanish poet cdso speaks 
of the pearl as having its origin in a dew-drop, 
and refers to St. Isidore of Seville as his authority, 
who, he says, was well informed in such matters : 

" Ca assi lo diz Sant Esidro que sopo la materia." 

Another type of Christ is the Indian stone 
(A,i8os irSiKos), which was supposed to cure dropsy 
by absorbing morbid humours and serous fluids 
in the body; "so, too, Christ heals us who are 
spiritually dropsical, having the waters of the devil 
collected in our hearts." There is also an Indian 
stone called eutokios or birth-easing, which is 
round like a nut and rings like a bell. When the 
female vulture is with young, she sits on this stone, 
as soon as she begins to feel the pangs of parturi- 
tipn, and its virtue is 'such as to enable her to 
bring forth without the pains of travail. In like 
manner Christ was born of the Virgin unbegotten 
and without suffering. And as the eutokios is 
hollow and has within it another stone, which gives 
out a pleasant sound, so the Godhead of our 
Lord was hidden in His body and yet made itself 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 49 

manifest. In this connection the expositor quotes 
several passages of the Scriptures, such as Mat- 
thew xxi. 42, and Isaiah xxvi. 18, which do not 
bear the slightest relevancy to the doctrine he 
wishes to enforce. 

What the Physiologus relates of the vulture is 
reported by Pliny of the eagle, and the stone is 
called aetites or eagle-stone, and is said to have 
been found frequently in the aerie of the king of 
birds. We may add that in the mediaeval Walden- 
sian bestiary a more edifying interpretation of the 
fable is given, which is explained as symbolizing 
the help of the Holy Spirit in bringing forth good 

It is a noteworthy mark of ignorance that both 
Pliny and the Physiologus speak of these accipi- 
trine birds as though they were viviparous instead 
of oviparous animals, and were to be classed with 
mammals rather than with fowls. 

Among fabulous stones the so-called terrobuli, 
more properly pyroboli (irt)po;3o\ot A.i8ot) or fire- 
stones, play a very prominent part in Christian 
symbolism and art. They are said to be found 
on a certain mountain of the Orient, and to be 
male and female. So long as they are far apart 
there is no perceptible heat in them, but if they 
are brought near to each other, fierce flames burst 
forth and the whole mountain is set on fircv Then 
comes the moralization designed to inculcate the 
virtue of moriastici^m. "Therefore, ye men of God, 
who would lead, a pure life, separate yourselves 



Animal Symbolism 

far from women, in order that the fires of lust may 
not be kindled in your hearts ; for these carnal 
passions are emissaries of Satan, sent to assail not 
only holy men, but also chaste women." Adam, 
Joseph, Samson, Solomon, Eve, and Susanna are 
then adduced as examples of the wiles and witchery 
of women. 

The terrobuli are usually represented in art as the 
naked or scantily-draped 
figures of a man and a 
woman, often in the rude 
form of a hermes, stand- 
Terrobuii. {Bestiary.) jjjg ng^r each Other and 

enveloped in flames. They occur in miniature 
illustrations of mediaeval bestiaries, as for example 
in a manuscript of the tenth century in the 
Arsenal Library, and one of the thirteenth century 
in the National Library of Paris, and a third of 
the fourteenth century in the Royal Library of 

Sculpture on arch of doorway of old Norman church at Atoe. 

Brussels. Representations of them in ecclesiastical 
architecture are comparatively rare ; there is, how- 
ever, a fine specimen of the terrobuli sculptured on 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 51 

one of the voussoirs or arch-stones over the south 

Sculpture on arch of doorway of old Norman church at Alne. 

entrance to an old Norman church at Alne in 

Sculpture on arch of doorway of old Norman church at Alne. 



Plastic and pictorial representations of animals in Christian 
art — Literary sources of these representations — Clavis of 
St. Melito — Epistle of Barnabas — The Physiologus com- 
piled by an Alexandrian Greek — The Hexahemera of the 
Fathers — Adam as the author of a natural history — 
Popular character of the Physiologus — Origen as an 
exegetist — Roger Bacon's views of the place of animals 
I in Scripture — Expositions and amplifications of the Phy- 
siologus by Epiphanius, St. Isidore, Petrus Damiani, and 
others^Anastasius Sinaita's Anagogical Contemplations 
■ — Latin poem on beasts and their mystical meaning by 
Theobald of Plaisance, and the English paraphrase — 
The Physiologus translated into Latin, Ethiopic, Arabic, 
Armenian, Syriac, Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, and all the 
principal modern languages of Europe — Brief descrip- 
tions of these versions — Prudentius' poems Hamartigenia 
and Psychomachia — The phoenix, a symbol of solar 
worship used to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the 
Resurrection — French bestiaries : Philippe de Thaun's 
Le Livre des Creatures, Peter of Picard/s prose version 
of the Physiologus, and Le Bestiaire Divin of William, a 
priest of Normandy — Encyclopaedias of natural history 
based on the Physiologus: Thomas de Cantimpr^'s 
Liber de Naturis Rerum, the Speculum Naiurale of 
Vincent de Beauvais, Liber de Proprietatibus Rerum of 
Bartholomaeus Anglicus, Hortus Deliciarum of Herrade 
de Landsberg, and other compilations — The church 
edifice an emblem of the human soul — Symbolism of the 
raven and the dove — Albertus Magnus' criticism of the 


Animal Symbolism 53- 

Still more important than the emblematic sig- 
nificance of precious stones is the place assigned to 
animals in physico- theology. Christian art, from 
the fourth century, furnishes numerous examples 
of this sort of symbolism, as may be seen in the 
oldest churches of Rome and Ravenna, and 'in the 
remains of early sacred monuments now preserved 
in the Museum of the Lateran and in similar 
archaeological collections. 

The literary sources, however, from which the 
conceptions embodied in these plastic and pictorial 
representations were derived, are of much earlier 
date. A celebrated work of this kind was the 
Clavis of St. Melito, Bishop of Sardis in Asia 
Minor, who lived in the latter half of the second 
century, under the reign of Marcus Aurelius. It 
was written in Greek, but now exists only in a 
Latin translation, or rather a Latin revision and 
re-digest of the original, since the text published 
by Pitra in his Spicilegmm Solesmense is unques- 
tionably a mere re-hash of the bishop's book, dating 
probably from the eleventh century. 

Still earlier is the epistle ascribed to Barnabas, 
which, although not composed by him, belongs 
probably to the latter half of the first century. 
The ninth chapter of this curious allegorizatiori 
of the Jewish ceremonial contains a list of the 
unclean beasts enumerated in the Levitical law 
(Deut. xiv.), with an explanation of their spiritual 
significance. The chief purpose of the apocryphal 
epistle was to counteract the Judaizing tendency 

54 Animal Symbolism 

in primitive Christianity, and to this end the 
author endeavoured to resolve the legal and ritual 
prescriptions of the Old Testament into mere pre- 
figurations and prophecies of Christian doctrines 
and institutions, and thus virtually abolished them 
by spiritualizing them. Judaism is thereby reduced 
to a foreshadowing symbolism of the new religion, 
by which it is destined to be superseded and 
ultimately set aside. 

The most complete and systematic, as well as 
the most popular and probably the oldest, of this 
class of exegetical expositions is the Physiologus 
or " Naturalist," as we would call it, which was com-, 
piled by an Alexandrian Greek from a great variety 
of sources, and doubtless embodied much of the 
priestly wisdom and esoteric science of ancient 
Egypt. The early Christian apologists and herme- 
neutists seem to have been extraordinarily fond of 
this kind of literature, which served their purpose 
as an application of the supposed facts of natural 
history to the illustration and enforcement of moral 
precepts and theological dogmas. In their frequent 
references to this work they evidently assume a 
general knowledge of it on the part of their readers, 
and it is probable that the Physiologus in its present 
form is made up of fragments of several books of a 
similar character, which were not only used as text- 
books in schools, but were intended for the edifica- 
tion of old and young, and were therefore more 
simple and attractive in style than the heavy 
Hexahemera or expositions of the six days' work 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture ^^ 

of creation, in which Papias, Justin the Martyr, St, 
Theophilus, St. Basil of Cesarea, Eustathius, and 
other patristic theologians delighted to display 
their ponderous and perverse erudition. In these 
elaborate commentaries the fable often serves as 
the text for a sermon, or suggests the theme of a 
dissertation. Thus in the Hexahemeron of Ambro- 
sius the story of the copulation of the viper with 
the lamprey furnishes the subject of a treatise on 
conjugal love. In like manner the crow is chosen 
as the type and pattern of hospitality, the stork is 
an example of filial piety, the swallow of maternal 
care and domestic content even in poverty, while 
the fish, which devour each other, are emblems of 

The Jews claim to have had a natural history by 

^ According to Luther the wisdom of the Magi was of this 
kind. In his sermon on Matthew ii. 1-12, he says : "Denn 
die hohen Schulen riihmen sich auch wie sie die natiirliche 
Kunst lehren, die sie nennen Philosophia, und lehren doch 
nicht Affenspiel, sondem vergiftig Irrthum und eitel Traum. 
Denn natiirliche Kunst, die vorzeiten Magia hiess, und jetzt 
Physiologia, ist die, so man lernet der Natur Krafte und 
Werk erkennen ; als dass ein Hirsch die Schlangen mit 
seinem Athem durch die Nasen aus der Steinritzen reisst 
und todet und frisset, und darnach vor grosser Hitze der 
Gift nach einem frischen Born diirstet, wie solches der 42 Ps. 
V. 2 anzeigt. Item, wie ein Wiesel die Schlange heraus-locket, 
wenn es vor der Schlangen Loch wiebelt mit seinem 
Schwanzlein, und dann die Schlange erziirnet heraus kreucht 
so lauret das Wieslein oben fiber dem Loche, und die 
Schlange iiber sich siehet nach ihrem Feind, so schlagt das 
Wieslein seine Zahne der Schlangen in den Hals neben die 
Vergift und erwiirget also seinen Feind in seinem eigenen 
Loche. In solchen Kiinsten haben die Magier studiret." 

56 Animal Symbolism 

Adam, who as the man first created and especially- 
commissioned by God to give to the animals names 
corresponding to their qualities, was supposed to 
have been intimately acquainted with them, and 
might therefore be regarded as an original and 
infallible authority on the subject. 

The fact that the Physiologus is usually cited in 
the singular number (o ^vaioKoyoi) has been thought 
to imply that the work was the production of a 
single author; but this inference is wholly un- 
warranted, since the word may be used generically 
to denote naturalists as a class. Indeed, some of 
the Fathers use the plural form, as, for example, 
Epiphanius in his commentary on the injunction : 
" Be ye, therefore, wise as serpents," cited in his 
Panarion or " Bread Basket," a description and 
refutation of the heresies of his time, in which he 
quotes what the Physiologists say (aJs ^oo-tv ot 
(^utrtoAo'yot) concerning the habits of this sagacious 

The Physiologus may therefore be regarded as a 
convenient compendium of current opinions and 
ancient traditions touching the characteristics of 
animals and plants, which served as a manual of 
instruction in zoology and botany with moral 
reflections, so as to include also the province of 
ethics. In the hands of Christian teachers it was 
made wholly subordinate to hermeneutical and 
homiletical purposes, and became a mere treatise 
on theology, interspersed with pious exhortation. 
Whether the statements it contained were authentic 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 57 

or not was something which the expositor did not 
bother himself about. It was not for him to ques- 
tion the assertion of the naturaHst, but to accept it 
as one accepts an apologue for the sake of the lesson 
it teaches, without any thought of the actuality or 
probability of the occurrence. Indeed, St. Basil 
expressly declares it to be a matter of less moment 
to ascertain whether such creatures as griffins and 
unicorns really exist, than to discover what religious 
tenets they inculcate and confirm ; and St. Augus- 
tine affirms that it is not for us to find out whether 
these marvellous stories are true or false, but rather 
to give heed to their spiritual significance. Thus 
he says, as regards the statement that the eagle 
breaks off its beak against a stone when it gets too 
long : " Sive ilia vera sunt quae dicuntur de aquila, 
sive sit fama potius hominum quam verit, Veritas 
est tamen in scripturis, et non sine causa hoc 
dixerunt scripturae. Nos quidquid illud significat 
faciamus et quam sit verum non laboremus." — In 
Psal. CII. 

Origen was inclined to treat in a similar manner 
all the events recorded in the Old Testament, 
regarding them, not as historical facts, but as 
religious types and symbols. Thus he characterizes 
the idyl of Rebecca as "not a relation of actual 
occurrences, but a concoction of mysteries." This 
"adamantine" expositor and "Father of biblical 
exegesis," as he has been called, appears in his 
youthful ardour and enthusiasm to have interpreted 
the words of Holy Writ with strict and uncom- 

58 Animal Symbolism 

promising literalness, and to have practised its 
teachings in this spirit with a blind fanaticism that 
is said to have led to self-mutilation for the sake 
of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. xix. 12). The 
cooling of his ascetic zeal and the consequent 
repentance of his rash act naturally produced in his 
mind a powerful reaction against the bondage of 
the letter of the Scriptures in favour of a spiritual 
and symbolical system of exegesis, of which he 
became the most ingenious and daring exponent 

The same views were expressed by the most 
eminent and sober-minded physicist of the middle 
ages, the Franciscan friar Roger Bacon, who, in his 
Opus Majus (ed. Jebb, p. 39), remarks : " All 
ancient saints and sages gather in their expositions 
the literal sense from the nature and properties of 
things, in order that they may educe therefrom the 
spiritual sense by suitable adaptations and simili- 
tudes. Thus Augustine in quoting the admonition : 
'Be wise as serpents,' says that our Lord meant 
by these words that as the serpent exposes its 
whole body for the protection of its head, so the 
apostles were to suffer persecution for the sake of 
Christ, who is their head. Every creature, indi- 
vidually and generically, from the heights of heaven 
to the end of the same, has its place in Scripture 
('ponitur in scriptura'). The former are facts in 
nature designed to illustrate the truths contained in 
the latter ; and the words of revelation bring out 
these truths more clearly and correctly than any 
philosophic toil can do." 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 59 

According to this theory, which still represents 
the official attitude of the Catholic Church and of 
many orthodox divines among Protestants, there is 
a sort of pre-established harmony between science 
and theology, which can be disturbed only by the 
aberrations of "science falsely so called." True 
science, on the contrary, does not aspire to any 
higher position than that of a handmaid to theology, 
and should never forget her essentially servile and 
ancillary functions, or think of questioning the 
supreme and infallible authority of her mistress, 
however arrogantly it may be exercised. 

Towards the end of the fourth century, the 
bigoted polemic and bitter persecutor of Origen's 
disciples, Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia in 
Cyprus, is said to have written an exposition of the 
Physiologus in twenty-six chapters, and a work of 
this kind attributed to him was printed about the 
middle of the sixteenth century by the learned 
Augustine friar and famous poet Ponce de Leon. 
The same subject was treated early in the seventh 
century by St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville, in his great 
work on etymology {Originum sen etymologiarum, 
lib. XX.), which became the popular encyclopaedia 
of the middle ages, and the chief source from which 
the authors of the numerous mediaeval bestiaries 
derived their information. The twelfth book treats 
of beasts, quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, and insects; 
the sixteenth of precious stones, and the seventh of 
plants. In this survey of the animal, vegetable, 
and mineral kingdoms the author generally confines 

6o Animal Symbolism 

himself to statements of what was regarded in his 
day as the facts of natural history ; the mystical 
and moral application of these things was made by 
his younger contemporary, St. Hildefonse, Bishop 
of Toledo, who discusses at considerable length 
their spiritual significance. 

Petrus Damiani, Abbot of Fonte Avellana and 
Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, wrote in the eleventh 
century a treatise on the excellence of the monastic 
state as exemplified by divers living creatures (De 
bono religiosi status et variaruin animantium), 
mentioning about forty marine and terrestrial ani- 
mals, from the oyster to the elephant, and adducing 
their real or fabulous qualities in illustration of the 
desirableness of a cenobitic life. About the year 
121 5 an Englishman, Alexander Neckam, composed 
a volume " On the Nature of Things " (^De Naturis 
Rerum), in which he discoursed of animals from 
ethical and doctrinal points of view. In 1498 there 
was published at Cologne a duodecimo entitled 
" Dialogue of Creatures excellently moralized and 
applicable to every Moral Matter in a pleasing and 
edifying manner, to the Praise of God and the 
Edification of Men " {Dyalogus creaturarutn optime 
moralisatus omni materie moralo iocundo et edifica- 
tivo modo applicabilis, ad laudem Dei et hominum 
edificationem). It contains a hundred and twenty- 
two dialogues, some in the style of .^Esop's fables, 
and others modelled after the Physiologus, with 
coarse woodcuts in elucidation of the text, and is 
altogether a pretentious but rather inferior produc- 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 6i 

tion. Anastasius Sinaita, a monk of the famous 
cloister on Mount Sinai, wrote during the latter half 
of the seventh century his elaborate "Anagogical 
Contemplations on the Six Days' Divine Work " in 
eleven books {Anagogicarum contemplationum in 
divini opificii Hexa'emeron), in which this sort of 
hermeneutic theology is pushed to the absurdest 
conclusions. The author's endeavour, as he states 
it, is "to thresh the ears of Scripture in order to 
get out the pure kernel, which is Christ." In other 
words, his work is a contribution to that " science of 
mystic Christology " which the early Church so 
assiduously cultivated, and of which Bishop Alex- 
ander in his Bampton Lectures deplores the decline. 
As regards the story of Eden, Anastasius remarks : 
" Woe be to us if we take it literally, for then we 
rush constantly from Scylla to Charybdis." This 
is quite true, and with the advancement of science 
and the comparative study of religions it is becom- 
ing increasingly difficult to sail with safety on this 
line between the whirlpool and the rock. 

In Beaugendre's edition of the works of Hildebert 
of Lavardin, Archbishop of Tours, who lived during 
the latter half of the eleventh century, is included a 
Latin poem on beasts and their mystical meaning, 
composed, as the title states, by Theobald of 
Plaisance, whoever he may have been. It has 
been suggested with some degree of probability 
that he was the Theobald who held the office of 
abbot of Monte Cassino from 1022 to 1035 ; there 
is, however, no confirmation of this conjecture in 

62 Animal Symbolism 

the manuscripts, where the author is called Theo- 
baldus Senensis Theobaldus Placentinus episcopus, 
or simply Theobaldus Italicus. 

This version of the Pkysiologus was exceedingly- 
popular in the middle ages, as is evident from the 
many manuscripts in which it has been transmitted 
to us, and from the number of annotated editions of 
it which were printed during the fifteenth century. 
It was published in 1872 by Dr. Richard Morris 
from a Harleian manuscript (Early English Text 
Society, vol. xlix., Appendix I., pp. 201-209). The 
English bestiary printed in the same volume (pp. 
1-25) from a manuscript of the thirteenth century, 
belonging to the library of the British Museum, 
is a free translation of Theobald's work. It was 
first edited by Wright (Haupt and Hoffmann's 
Altdeutsche Blatter, ii., and Wright and Halliwell's 
Reliqiia Antiquce, i.), and is also found in Matz- 
ner's Altenglische Sfrachproben, i. Thierfelder men- 
tions in Naumann's Serapeum (1862, Nos. 15 and 
16) two metrical versions of the Pkysiologus in 
Latin as extant in manuscript ; one dated 1493 
and written in elegiac verse by a certain Florinus, 
and preserved in the University Library of Leipsic, 
and the other in Leonine verse by an unknown 
author, and now in the University Library of 

Perhaps no book, except the Bible, has ever been 
so widely diffused among so many peoples and for 
so many centuries as the Pkysiologus. It has been 
translated into Latin, Ethiopic, Arabic, Armenian, 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 63 

Syriac, Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, Spanish, Italian, 
Proven5al, and all the principal dialects of the 
Germanic and Romanic languages. 

One of the oldest and most interesting of these 
versions is the Ethiopic, which belongs to the first 
half of the fifth century, and forms, with the trans- 
lation of the Septuagint, the basis of Ethiopic or 
Ge'ez literature. It adheres very closely to the 
original, but contains numerous errors, owing to 
the translator's imperfect knowledge of Greek. It 
has been carefully edited from London, Paris, and 
Vienna manuscripts, with ample annotations, a 
German translation, and an admirable introduction 
by Dr. Fritz Hommel, Professor of Arabic in the 
University of Munich (Leipsic, 1877). As the work 
is written in classical Ge'ez, it can be recommended 
as an excellent text-book for beginners in Ethiopic. 

Of a somewhat later date is the Armenian trans- 
lation, which follows the Greek original in the 
descriptions of the animals and their habits, but 
deviates from it considerably in the moralizations 
and religious applications of their characteristics. 
It has been published by Pitra in his Spicilegium. 
Solesmmse, iii., and translated into French by Cahier 
{Nouveaux Melanges d' ArcMologig, 1874). 

The oldest Syriac version, published by Tychsen 
iPhysiologus Syrus, Rostock, 1795), is, in the opinion 
of Dr. Lauchert, " at least as old as the Ethiopic and 
more important than the Armenian." ^ It gives 

1 Gischichte des Physiologus, von Dr. Friedrich Lauchert. 
Strasburg, Triibner, 1889. This is the most complete and 

64 Animal Symbolism 

the natural history of thirty-two animals, each 
section being introduced by passages of Scripture 
in which the animal under discussion is mentioned, 
but without any moral or religious reflections, or 
any attempt at exegetical exposition. It thus 
constitutes a sort of biblical beast-book free from 
hermeneutical tendencies. There are also several 
later Syriac translations, some of which have been 
printed, with Latin metaphrases, by Land in his 
Anecdota Syriaca, iv. The Arabic version, edited 
by Land in his Otia Syriaca, iv., observes pretty 
much the same order as the Greek original, the 
authorship of which is ascribed by the Arabic 
translator to Gregory surnamed the Theologian, 
better known as Gregory of Nazianz. This state- 
ment, however, seems to be a personal conjecture 
or vague tradition of no real value. 

The Latin version of the Physiologus is first men- 
tioned in the so-called Decretum Gelasianum or 
Index Prohibitorum attributed to Pope Gelasius I., 
and supposed to have been issued by him A.D. 496. 
In this catalogue of forbidden books it is charac- 
terized as Liber Physiologus, qui ab hmreticis 
conscriptus est, et beati Ambrosii nomine signatus, 
apocryphus. As Ambrosius died A.D. 397, and it is 
hardly probable that a work which he did not 
Write would be ascribed to him until at least a 
few years after his death, we are justified in assum- 

critical history of the Physiologus hitherto published, and is 
especially rich in bibliographical information. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 65 

ing that the Latin Physiologus was not composed 
before the beginning of the fifth century. Professor 
Friedrich of Munich has shown, in a paper read 
before the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences, 
Jan. 7, 1888, that the above-mentioned Gelasian 
Decree was not issued by Pope Gelasius I., but was 
a private document with no official character what- 
ever, and that it did not exist before A.D. 533. An 
additional circumstance, which enables us to fix 
the probable date of the work within still narrower 
limits, is the fact that in connection with the expo- 
sition of the third quality of the ant a list of 
heretics is given whose teachings are to be avoided, 
but among them Nestorius, whose doctrine was 
condemned by the third (Ecumenical Council at 
Ephesus, A.D. 431, is not mentioned. As so promi- 
nent a heretic would not have been passed over, we 
may fitly infer that this Latin version was made 
before his condemnation, namely during the first 
three decades of the fifth century. The existing 
manuscripts of the Latin Physiologus belong to the 
eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries; they do not 
present a uniform text with variants, and are there- 
fore not copies of the same translation, but rather 
independent versions, to which each translator has 
added interpretations of his own; at least they 
contain expositions not found in any Greek 
manuscripts now extant. The Latin Physiologus 
has been published by Cahier in his Melanges 
d! Archiologie, ii.-iv. Another shorter Latin version, 
known as Dicta Johannis Chrysostomi de Naturis 


66 Animal Symbolism 

Bestiarum, has been printed by Heider in Archiv 
fiir die Kunde oesterreichischer Geschichtsquellen, ii. 
(1850), from a manuscript of the eleventh century 
belonging to the cloister of Gottweih. It is simply an 
abbreviation and re-arrangement of the text edited 
by Cahier. 

Cassiodorus in his commentary on Psalm cii. 6 
says, that the holy man loves solitude like the 
pelican, and withdraws from human society like 
the nycticorax or night-raven, and tells the old 
story of the renewal of the eagle's youth in illustration 
of Psalm ciii. 5. Gregory I., surnamed the Great, 
was especially fond of symbolisms of this sort, and 
made very free use of them in his expositions of 
Job. So, too, in the beginning of the eighth century, 
Aldhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury, draws illustrations 
of his parables from the same source, as does also 
the Venerable Beda, a generation later, in his in- 
terpretation of Job xxix. 18, which he renders : " I 
shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days 
like the phoenix ; " the Hebrew word chul meaning 
phoenix as well as sand. It also signifies palm-tree ; 
St. Jerome took it in this sense : " sicut palma mul- 
tipHcabo dies," and the same interpretation is given 
in the Septuagint: (oo-wep (rre'Xeyos <j)oCyiKO 'iro\vv 
Xpovov fiioia-oi : « like the stem of the palm-tree I shall 
live a Jong time." 

One of the early Christian poets, Aurelius 
Clemens Prudentius (a.d. 348 — 410), in his Hamar- 
tigenia or Genesis of Sin (v. 518 sqq.\ gives a 
detailed description of the birth of the viper in 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 67 

illustration of his theme, Prudentius is also the 
author of Psycliomachia, or the " Battle of the Soul," 
which is one of the first examples of a purely 
allegorical poem in Occidental literature, and the 
model of all similar productions in the middle ages. 
In the proem we have a characteristic specimen 
of typological hermeneutics, in which Abraham 
represents Faith, his three hundred and eighteen 
servants signify Christ (the Greek numerical letters 
T (300) I (10) H (8) were for this reason a mono- 
grammatic expression for Christ), the heathen kings 
of Sodom and Gomorrah are types of carnal vices, 
and Lot, a sojourner in Sodom, is the soul of the 
pious man beset by the seductions of the flesh. 
This interpretation was not original with the Spanish 
Latin poet, but borrowed from the supposititious 
Epistle of Barnabas, where in the ninth chapter the 
following passage occurs : " The scripture saith, 
' Abraham circumcised three hundred and eighteen 
men of his household.'^ Hear the meaning -first 
of the eighteen, then of the three hundred. The 
ten and eight are represented, the ten by I, and 
the eight by H. There thou hast the beginning 
of the name IHSOT2. But because the Cross, in 
the form of the letter T, was to carry the grace 
of salvation, therefore he adds three hundred, which 
is represented by T in Greek. So he shows 
forth Jesus in the first two letters, and the Cross in 
the third." Evidently the Jewish patriarch did not 

1 This statement is not strictly correct, but is derived 
from a combination of Gen. xiv, 14 and xvii. 26, 27. 

68 Animal Symbolism 

dream of the profound significance which Christian 
expositors would attach to the simple act of cir- 
cumcising the members of his tribal family. 

A still more elaborate allegorical production of 
this class is the hexameter poem De Phxnice, 
ascribed to Lactantius, but probably of a somewhat 
later date. It bears the stamp of paganism rather 
than of Christianity, the phoenix being glorified as 
a satellite of the sun and a symbol of solar worship. 
It begins with a florid description of the home of 
the phoenix in the remotest region of the East, in a 
grove consecrated to the sun and situated far above 
the reach of Phaeton's fire or Deucalion's deluge, 
where there is neither disease nor death, and where 
old age, crime, passion, care, and poverty never 
come, and storm, rain, and frost are all unknown. 
In this retreat, which is rendered perpetually fresh 
and green by a living spring, the phoenix dwells 
and greets the dawn with a sacred song.^ The 
peroration is a rapturous apostrophe to the phoenix : 
" Oh, bird of happy fortune and fate, to whom the 
god himself has granted the gift of self-regenera- 
tion. Whether male or female, or neither, or both, 
happy is she who enters into no compact with 
Venus. Death is Venus to her ; her only pleasure 
is in death; she desires to die that she may be 
born again. She is her own offspring, her own 
father and heir, her own mother and nurse, a foster- 
child of herself. She is herself indeed, but not the 

1 For a full analysis of the poem see Adolf Ebert's 
Gesckichte der Christlich-Lateinischen Literatur, i. 95. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 69 

same, since she is herself and not herself, having 
gained eternal life by the boon and blessing of 

It is easy to see what a prolific source of doc- 
trinal interpretation and illustration the supposed 
characteristics of this mystic bird would supply to 
Christian exegetists and homilists. It is well 
known, too, that the chief features of sun-worship 
colour the ideas and crop out in the ecclesiastical 
institutions of Christendom. Christmas, Epiphany, 
Easter, Whitsuntide, the midsummer feast of St. 
John, and all the principal holy-days and festivals 
of the Church are survivals of a solar or stellar cult, 
and were determined, not by historical facts or 
traditions, but by astronomical considerations cor- 
responding to the waxing or waning power of the 
sun, or coinciding with the position of the constel- 
lations in the heavens and the influence they were 
supposed to exert upon the course of the seasons 
and other sublunary affairs. Constantine remained 
a sun-worshipper till the day of his death, and the 
coins of early Christian emperors were often stamped 
with the image of the phoenix as an emblem of this 
ancient and once universal cult. 

An Anglo-Saxon paraphrase of this poem, sup- 
posed to have been made by Cynewulf, has been 
published by Thorpe (Codex Exomenszs, pp. 197-242), 
together with the Latin text, and also by Grein 
{Bibliothek der angelsdcksiscken Poesie, i. 215-233). 
The first part is a description of the phoenix, and 
* Cf. Lactantius, Opera, ii. 214-219. 

7o Animal Symbolism 

the second part an application of its fabulous quali- 
ties to the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection. 

It was from the Latin Physiologus that all the 
translations of the work existing in the vulgar 
tongues of Europe were made. Thus it became! 
the common property of the people ; its similitudes 
were no longer confined to hermeneutic theology, 
but passed into general literature, and into ecclesi- 
astical architecture. The oldest of these versions 
is the Anglo-Saxon, which dates from the end of 
the eighth century. It has been edited by Thorpe 
with an English translation {Codex Exoniensis, pp. 
355-367), and by Grein {Bibl. der angels. Poesie, i. 
233-238); and although only a fragment of it has 
been preserved, enough remains to show that it 
must have been superior to all other versions in 
poetic beauty and compact vigour of expression. 

There are two German versions of the Physio- 
logus, belonging respectively to the eleventh and 
twelfth centuries. The older one is a fragment, 
and has been printed several times from a Vienna 
manuscript, best perhaps by MUllenhoff and Scherer 
{Denkmaler, No. 81) ; the other is comjilete, and has 
been printed last by Lauchert in the Appendix to 
his Geschichte des Physiologus, pp. 280-299. Both 
versions correspond to the Diaa of Chrysostom 
with only slight variations. 

The Icelandic version, which has been trans- 
mitted to us in a very fragmentary condition, dates 
from the beginning of the thirteenth century, and 
follows the Latin text with occasional additions 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 71 

and deviations. It was edited in 1877 by Moebius 
{Analecta Norrosna, pp. 246-25.1), who also gave a 
German translation of it in Hommel's Ethiopia 
Physiologus, pp. 99-104 ; but the most complete text 
of these fragments has been printed, together with 
the crude and quaint di-awings illustrating the 
original manuscripts, by Verner Dahlerup, in his 
exhaustive critical bibliography of the Physiologus, 
which appeared in Aarboger for Nordisk Oldkyn- 
dighed og Historic udgivene af Det kogelige Nor- 
diske Oldskrift-Selskab in 1889 (ii. 4, 3, 199-290). 

The French bestiaries are also based upon the 
Physiologus, but have been greatly amplified, not 
so much by the introduction of other animals, as 
by fuller descriptions and more extended exposi- 
tions. The oldest of these productions is the 
Anglo-Norman Le Livre des Creatures, by Philippe 
de Thaun, written about the year 1121 and dedi- 
cated to Queen Adelheid of Louvraine, and doubt- 
less intended to celebrate her nuptials with Henry 
I. of England, which took place at this time. 
It has been published from a manuscript in the 
British Museum, with an English translation by 
Wright in his Popular Treatises on Science during 
the Middle Ages. Another French translation in 
prose was made by a priest, Peter of Picardy, who 
states that he undertook the task at the request of 
Philippe de Dreux, Bishop of Beauvais (1175 — 
1 2 17), an item of information which enables us to 
assign the work approximately to the end of the 
twelfth century. The translator adds that the 

72 Animal Symbolism 

Bishop, having little confidence in the fidelity of 
poetic versions, wished him to avoid metre in order 
to adhere as closely as possible to "the Latin 
which Physiologus, one of the good clerks of Athens, 
has used." It has been published by Cahier in his 
MManges tTArck^ologie, ii.-iv. About the same 
time, or perhaps a little later, William, a priest of 
Normandy, wrote Le Bestiaire Divin in rhyme. 
Inasmuch as the author refers twice to the interdict 
which Pope Innocent III. laid upon England, "at 
the time when Philippe reigned in France," as still 
in force, the poem must have been written between 
1208 and 1212. It has been published by Cahier 
{ibid.), by Hippeau {Le Bestiaire Divin de Guillaume, 
clercde Normandie, Caen, 1852), and lastly and most 
satisfactorily by Reisch (Leipsic, 1890). 

There is also a Greek metrical version of the 
Physiologus in two manuscripts of the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, both of which are in Paris. 
It is probably a production of the twelfth century, 
and has been printed by Legrange {Le Physiologus 
en grec vulgaire et en vers politiques, Paris, 1873). 
The fragment of a Spanish Physiologus of the four- 
teenth century has been published under the title 
Libro de los Gatos, from a manuscript of the 
National Library of Madrid by Pascual de Gayan- 
gos, in his collection of prose writers anterior to the 
fifteenth century {Biblioteca de Autores Espanoles, 
Hi., Madrid, 1859). We have also the somewhat 
scanty remains of a Rumanian version, supposed 
to belong to the sixteenth century, although the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 73 

only manuscript of it extant bears the date 17 17. 
It has been printed with an Italian translation by 
Gaster (^A rchivio Glottologico Itcdiano, x.). Lauchert 
mentions a Waldensian Physiologus existing in a 
single Dublin manuscript, and entitled De las 
Propriotas de las Animancas. The author calls 
himself Jaco, and states in the introduction that 
the book is designed for use as a manual of in- 
struction, and in accordance with this purpose, the 
exposition is ethical rather than theological, and 
aims to inculcate, not so much soundness of doctrine 
as correct moral conduct in the common relations 
of life. 

Barth has edited from a Paris manuscript in his 
Chrestomathie Provenqale some excerpts of a Pro- 
vencal Physiologus under the title Also son las 
Naturas d'alcus Auzels e d' alamos Bestias, treating 
of the nature of birds and beasts, but with no 
attempt at exposition of any kind. There is also 
a bestiary in the Tusco- Venetian dialect, recently 
published and annotated by Max Goldstaub and 
Richard Wendriner (Halle, 1892) from a manu- 
script in the Biblioteca Communale of Padua. It 
discusses some forty beasts, several of which (as 
the horse) are not mentioned in the Physiologies, 
and explains their qualities in a moral rather than 
in a dogmatic sense. Thus the unicorn is a symbol 
of violent and cruel persons, who can be subdued 
and rendered gentle only by the grace of God. 
Saul is adduced as an example of this sort of 
person. The Biblioteca Ricciardiana and the 

74 Animal Symbolism 

Biblioteca Laurenziana of Florence, as well as 
other Italian libraries, contain numerous codices 
of bestiaries which have never been printed. 

Besides being so frequently translated, the Physi- 
ologus is constantly cited by mediaeval writers, and 
forms the basis of many bulky tomes, such as 
Thomas de Cantimprd's Liber de Naturis Rerum, 
written between 1233 and 1248. This work was 
one of the earliest and most celebrated encyclo- 
psedias of natural history, and was freely translated 
into Dutch about 1280 by Jacob van Maerlant, 
under the title Der Naturen Bloeme, and in 1350 
into German by Konrad von Megenberg as Das 
Buck der Nattir. Like in character, and hardly 
less important, are the Speculum Naturale of Vin- 
cent de Beauvais, completed about 1250, the Liber 
de Proprietatibus Rerum of Bartholomseus An- 
glicus, dating from the latter half of the thirteenth 
century, Brunetto Latino's Li Tresors, the French 
translation of a Latin original belonging to the 
same period, the Acerba, a didactic poem by Cecco 
d'Ascoli, who was burned at the stake in 1327, 
and other volumes, which treated in a popular style 
of the occult properties and symbolical significance 
of birds, beasts, plants, and stones. 

An elaborate compilation of this kind was the 
Hortus Deliciarum of Herrade de Landsberg, 
Abbess of St. Odile, who turned the facts and fables 
of natural science into the channel of moral instruc- 
tion and religious edification. It was written during 
the latter half of the twelfth century, and preserved 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 7^ 

in a unique vellum manuscript of 648 folio pages, 
with numerous illuminations and miniatures, in the 
Strasburg Library, where it perished, with so many- 
other literary and artistic treasures, during the 
bombardment of that city by the Germans in 1870. 
There was also a treatise on beasts and other 
things {^Institutiones Monasticce de Bestiis et aliis 
Rebus), commonly, though in all probability falsely, 
ascribed to Hugo de Saint-Victor, in which these 
symbolisms were wonderfully wrought out, and 
every feature, member, hue, and habit of the crea- 
tures thus allegorized was made to yield a secret 
and subtle significance. "What Holy Writ incul- 
cates on the learned," says the author of this work 
in reference to the pictorial representations of such 
ideas, "pictures impress upon the ignorant; for as 
the scholar delights in the subtlety of Scripture, so 
the soul of the simple is pleased with the simpli- 
city of pictures." But this simplicity was often 
lost in a puzzling maze and winding labyrinth of 
allegorical and mystical interpretation, which it 
would be impossible for the wayfaring man, even 
though he were not a fool, to thread without the 
Physiologus or some later elaboration of it as a clue. 
Indeed, without such guidance it would be equally 
difficult for us at the present day to understand 
what the builder of a mediaeval church or an 
embroiderer of sacerdotal vestments meant by 
adorning them with seemingly incongruous repre- 
sentations of lions, eagles, phcenixes, pelicans, ravens, 
doves, partridges, panthers, harts, foxes, hedge- 

yt Animal Symbolism 

hogs, ferrets, ichneumons, lizards, serpents, tortoises, 
whales, elephants, ibises, crocodiles, unicorns, sala- 
manders, and other real and mythical animals, or 
to conjecture what conceivable relation they could 
bear to Christian theology or Christian worship. 

The sacred edifice as a whole was regarded as 
an emblem of the human soul, of which the crea- 
tures carved on the pillars and portals were the 
desirable or undesirable attributes and affections. 
Thus an ox typified patience and gentleness, a lion 
sternness and majesty, a turtle-dove constancy and 
chastity, a ram spiritual leadership, a lily purity, 
and a rose martyrdom. We have a modern sur- 
vival of this symbolism in Gabriel Max's celebrated 
painting. The Last Greeting, in which a rose falls 
to the feet of a young woman as she stands 
exposed to wild beasts in the amphitheatre. 

So, too, the raven and the dove are not mere 
reminiscences of the Deluge, but emblems — the 
former of the carnal-minded Jews, who live on 
the carrion of the Law, the latter of the new prin- 
ciple of Christianity, that finds no abiding-place 
outside of the ark of safety, but returns to it 
bringing the olive branch of peace and reconcilia- 
tion. There is also a distinction between the dove 
of Noah, the dove of David, and the dove of Christ ; 
the first signifies rest, the second peace, and the 
third salvation. As the dove separates with its 
beak the choicest kernels of wheat from the chaff, 
so it is the office of the preacher to separate the 
pure grain of Christian doctrine from the husks of 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 'jj 

Judaism. Its two wings are love of man and love 
of God, compassion and contemplation, the active 
and the meditative life; the ring round its neck 
is the encircling sweetness of the Divine Word; 
the gold and silver of its plumage are the precious 
treasures of purity and innocence; its whiteness 
intermingled with changeable tints is the spirit of 
chastity in conflict with fickle and rebellious pas- 
sions ; its red feet are the feet of the Church stained 
with the blood of the martyrs ; its two eyes sui-vey 
the past and discern the future, looking in upon 
the soul and up to God; their yellowish lustre 
indicates maturity of thought and reflection, for 
yellow is the colour of ripe fruit. 

In the middle ages these symbolisms, which 
seem to us so far-fetched and obscure, were con- 
stantly referred to in sermons and in sacred and 
profane literature, as well as in common discourse, 
and appear, therefore, to have been generally under- 
stood, so that a passing allusion to them in a book 
or address was assumed to be intelligible without 
further comment. Thus we find in a Latin poem 
published by Du Meril in his Poesies populaires 
latines antirieures au XII' Steele, p. 191, a line in 
which Christ is said to have been put to death by 

owls — 

" Christus a noctuis datur supplicio." 

This is, however, a figurative expression for the 
Jews, who, in the Physiologus, are compared to the 
nycticorax, night-raven or owl, which cannot en- 
dure the presence of the sun, as the Jews could 

78 Animal Symbolism 

not endure the coming of " the dayspring from on 
high," and the brightness of the sun of righteous- 
ness, loving darkness rather than light because their 
deeds were evil. Thus we read in the Bestiaire 
Divin of Guillaume — 

" En cest oisel sunt figurd 
Li fols Gieu maMur^, 
Qui ne voldrent Deu entendre 
Quant il vint 5a per nus raendre, 
De Deu, qui est verrai soleil, 
Ne voleient creire le conseil.'' 

About the middle of the thirteenth century 
Albertus Magnus wrote a book on animals {De 
Animalibus), in which he attempted some criticism 
of the Physiologiis, but the narrations he accepts as 
true are for the most part quite as incredible and 
absurd as those he rejects, so that it is difficult to 
determine by what criterion he tests their authen- 
ticity. Thus, for example, he is sceptical as regards 
the self-mutilation of the beaver when pursued by 
hunters, but puts implicit faith in the fable of the 
unicorn and the virgin. 

With the translation of the Physiologus into the 
vulgar tongues of Europe it ceased to be the exclu- 
sive possession of theologians and exegetists, and 
was no longer confined to the purposes of homi- 
letical and hermeneutical illustration, but became 
the common property of the people, and passed 
into the general literature of Christendom as an in- 
exhaustible source of quaint and often forced meta- 
phor, and sometimes apt, though more frequently 
lame and lopsided, simile. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 79 

Allusions to it occur henceforth not only in 
sermons and sacred songs, in devotional works and 
doctrinal treatises, and in the encyclopaedic compi- 
lations of natural science, which professed to give 
information "concerning all things and some things 
besides " {de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis), but 
also in the secular, and especially the erotic poetry 
of the period. Indeed, without a knowledge of the 
Physiologus, these allusions would be wholly unin- 
telligible. The citations contained in Lauchert's 
exhaustive chapter on this subject (pp. 185-207) 
suffice to show how v^idely extended and well- 
nigh universal was the popularity which the work 



The three characteristics of the lion — Representations of the 
lion as a symbol of the Resurrection in architecture — 
Beasts often have a twofold signification — The lion and 
bear as types of Satan — Diabolification of the dog — 
Strange misconception of the canine character — Lions as 
pedestals — Metaphorical use of the lion in poetry — ^The 
lizard in architecture — Artistic delineations of the unicorn 
as a type of Christ's Incarnation — Auricular conception of 
Christ as the Logos — Supposed anti-toxical virtue of the 
unicorn's horn and that of the African viper — The unicorn 
in legend and poetry — Characteristics of the elephant — 
Symbol of the fall of man — Julius Csesar's queer account 
of the elk — Elephants embroidered on chasubles — Four 
characteristics of the serpent — Artistic and poetic uses 
of its fabled attributes — The eagle as a symbol of 
spiritual aspiration and baptismal regeneration — Allu- 
sions to it by Dante and other poets — ^The fish in sacred 
iconology — Significance of the whale in ecclesiastical 
architecture — Symbolism of the remora and serra — Im- 
portance of the phoenix and the pelican as emblems of 
Christian doctrine — Their prominent place in Church 
architecture — Import of the fabulous exploits of the otter 
and the ichneumon — Panther and dragon typical of 
Christ and Belial — Healing power of the "heavenly 
panther" — Lesson of self-renunciation taught by the 
beaver — Characteristic of the hyena — Symbolism of the 
salamander — The partridge a type of the devil — Ex- 
amples of the charadrius in art — Mystical meaning of the 
crow, turtle-dove, ousel, merl, fulica, and hoopoe — Curious 
statement of Luther concerning swallows — Why God 

Animal Symbolism 8 1 

feeds the young ravens — Peculiarities of the wolf — The 
Pkysiologus condemned as heretical — Freely used by 
Gregory the Great in his scriptural exposition — Virtues 
and vices portrayed as women mounted on various 
animals — Disputatious scholastics satirized — Tetramorph 
— Gospel mills — The ark of the covenant as the triumphal 
chariot of the Cross — Cock and clergy — Origin of the 
basilisk and its significance — Its prominence in religious 
symbology and sacred architecture — Cautious scepticism 
of Albertus Magnus — The Pkysiologus from a psycho- 
logical point of view, as illustrating the credulity of the 
Fathers of the Church — Why "the hart panteih afler 
the water-brooks" — Story of the antelope — Barnacle geese 
— " Credo quia absurdum " — Modem counterparts of early 
Christian apologists and exegetists. 

The Pkysiologus begins with the lion, and adduces 
three characteristics of the king of beasts. " First, 
when he perceives that the hunters are pursuing 
him, he erases his foot-prints with his tail, so that 
he cannot be traced to his lair. In like manner 
our Saviour, the lion of the tribe of Judah, con- 
cealed all traces of His Godhead, when He descended 
to the earth and entered into the womb of the 
Virgin Mary. Secondly, the lion always sleeps 
with his eyes open; so our Lord slept with His 
body on the Cross, but awoke at the right hand 
of the Father. Thirdly, the lioness brings forth 
her whelps dead and watches over them until, 
after three days, the lion comes and howls over 
them and vivifies them by his breath; so the 
Almighty Father recalled to life His only-begotten. 
Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who on the third 
day was thus raised from the dead, and will 
likewise raise us all up to eternal life." 



Animal Symbolism 

This comparison of the risen Christ to a lion's 
whelp is also used by Abelard in the following 
lines — 

" Ut leonis catulus 
Resurrexit Dominus, 
Quem rugitus patrius 

Die tertia 
Suscitat vivificus 
Teste physica.'' 

The appeal of the illustrious schoolman to physics 
in proof of his statement is clearly a reference to 
the Physiologus. 

This last supposed characteristic of the lion 
appears to have been a favourite symbol of the 
resurrection of Christ, as well as of the general 
resurrection, and holds a prominent place in 

^'ii"h ^^•iiiir lit 
Relief of a Lion. {MunUh.) 

mediaeval architecture. Representations of it are 
frequently found in various parts of ecclesiastical 
edifices, as, for example, on the principal portal 
of St. Laurence in Nuremberg, in the choir of 
Augsburg Cathedral, at the foot of a colossal 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 83 

crucifix in St. Nicholas of Stralsund, in the Wiirt- 
emberg cloisters Maulbronn and Bebenhausen, 
and in a large relief, which dates from the latter 
half of the thirteenth century, and doubtless be- 
longed originally to some church or cloister, pro- 
bably to the bid chapel and hospital of the Holy 
Ghost (built 1251-66 and burned 1327), but which 
now adorns the fagade of a house Im Thai near 
the Marienplatz in Munich, and the origin and 
signification of which have excited no little dis- 
cussion among Bavarian antiquarians and ecclesi- 
ologists. So, too, a stained window of the minster 
of Freiburg in the Breisgau contains a painting 
of the Crucifixion, at the top of which is a pelican 
feeding its young with its own blood; above the 
pelican stands a lion breathing upon three whelps, 
which are just beginning to show signs of life. 
Underneath the lion is the inscription : IIi[c] Leo 
Forma S{alvatoris\, showing it to be a type of 
the quickening power of the voice of Christ. A 
stained window of the thirteenth century in the 
cathedral of St. Etienne at Bourges represents the 
pelican below on the left and the lion and whelps on 
the right of the Crucified ; above, on the correspond- 
ing sides, are Jonah delivered from the whale and 
Elijah restoring to life the son of the widow of 
Zerephath (see Frontispiece). In the central lancet 
window of the chapels dedicated to the Virgin in 
the cathedrals of Le Mans and Tours are similar 
symbols of the death and resurrection of Christ, 
in which the phoenix rising from its ashes takes 

84 Animal Symbolism 

the place of the pelican. Also the central lancet 
window in the apsis of the cathedral of Lyons has 
a border of medallion paintings referring to the 
same subject, among which are a lion and his 
whelp running at full speed, the latter having 
evidently been just resuscitated. It was often 
carved on sacramental vessels, as, for example, on 
a ciborium belonging to the monastery Kloster- 
neuburg, near Vienna, a fine specimen of gold- 
smith's work dating from the beginning of the 
fourteenth century. 

A lion howling over three whelps is one of the 
series of reliefs representing 
biblical and mythical sub- 
jects that ornament a frieze 
on the exterior of Stras- 
burg Minster. Besides 

Lion howling over his whelps. SCenCS from the JeWlsh 

(strc^htrgMh^ur.-) Scrlptures, such as Abra- 
ham preparing to sacrifice Isaac, but arrested by 
an angel, who points to a ram entangled in a bush, 
Jonah cast up by the whale near one of the towers of 
Nineveh, the brazen serpent, etc., we may mention 
in this connection several reliefs which are based 
upon the legends of the Physiologus, and the meaning 
of which will be explained hereafter : a phoenix 
in the flames, a pelican piercing her breast and 
feeding her young with her blood, an eagle taking 
eaglets from the nest to make them look at the 
sun, and a unicorn with its head in the lap of a 
virgin, while a man is thrusting a spear into its 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 85 

side. This last sculpture resembles very closely 
the illustration from the bestiary which we have 
given in discussing the symbolism of the unicorn. 

In connection with scenes from the life of Christ 
on the bronze doors of the cathedral of Pisa are 
reliefs of a lion howling over two whelps, an 
eagle mounting up towards the sun, a unicorn, a 
hart by a stream of water, a serpent, and an old 
rhinoceros with two young ones playing in the 
background, evidently intended to represent the 
leviathan of the Bible. 

At a somewhat later period the lion, as a sym- 
bol of the Resurrection, was sculptured on public 
buildings of a secular character and on private 
dwellings ; it was also engraved on pieces of armour 
and especially on helmets, often with the legend, 
Domine vivifica me secundum verbum. tuum, or some 
other appropriate device, expressive of the hope 
of the warrior that, if slain in battle, he might be 
raised up on the last day, 

Durand, in his Rationale Divinorum Officionim, 
lib. vii., has a chapter on the rubric of the Evan- 
gelists {Rubrica de Evangelistis), in which he 
says that Mark's type is a roaring lion, " because 
his aim is chiefly to give a description of the 
resurrection of Christ, and that for this reason his 
gospel is read at Easter. For it is stated that 
the lion by its tremendous roar calls to life its 
whelps on the third day, and thus God the Father 
by His immense power called to life His Son on 
the third day." Origen has a similar explanation 

86 Animal Symbolism 

of this symbolism in his discourse on Genesis.'- 
Indeed, the allusions to this zoological myth in 
homiletical and hermeneutical literature are so 
numerous and unequivocal, and the symbolical 
interpretation of it so obvious and uniform, that 
one marvels that Bavarian archaeologists should 
have expended so much rare and recondite erudi- 
tion and ingenuity of conjecture, and have gone 
so far afield historically in search of the origin and 
meaning of the Munich bas-relief already mentioned. 

A sleeping lion is often brought into typological 
relation to the infant Jesus, as, for example, on the 
western portal of Notre-Dame de Paris, and in a 
fresco in the church of the convent Philotheos on 
Mount Athos, where the connection is made clear 
by the words of Jacob concerning Judah : " He 
stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old 
lion; who shall rouse him up?" — Gen. xlix. 9 
(Didron, Histoire de Dieu, p. 348). 

The belief that the lion never closes its eyes in 
sleep caused this animal to be placed at the doors 
of churches as a guardian of the sanctuarj-. This 
custom, which was observed for the same reason 
by the ancient Egyptians, is thus referred to by a 
mediaeval poet — 

" Est leo, sed custos, oculis quia dormit apertis 
Templorum idcirco, ponitus ante foras." 

1 'Nam Physiologus de catulo Leonis scribit, quod quum 
fuent natus, tnbus diebus et tribus noctibus dormiat, quod 
valde convenientur aptatur in Christo, qui tribus diebus et 
tnbus noctibus m coide terras sepultus, somnium mortis 
implevit." — In Genesivt, Hom. xvii. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 87 

This type of spiritual vigilance is found most 
frequently in Romanic and early Gothic archi- 
tecture, from the beginning of the ninth to the end 
of the thirteenth century. Usually the lions repose 
on either side of the principal entrance, or stand 
on pillars in the portico of the edifice, or serve, 
especially in Italian churches, as pedestals to sup- 
port the columns of the doorway. Examples of 
this kind may be seen in the cathedral of Mayence, 
the oldest churches of Cologne, the so-called Schot- 
tenkirche (former church of Scotch Benedictines) 
in Ratisbon, St. Stephen's in Vienna, and in various 
structures of an ecclesiastical character at Ancona, 
Monza, Padua, Parma, Ravenna, Rome, Siponto, 
and other Italian cities. 

In some instances the same beast may sym- 
bolize utterly opposing principles, since it embodies 
antagonistic qualities.^ The lion, for example, is 
not only typical of Christ triumphing over death 
and hell and loosing the seven seals from the book 
of life (Rev. v. S), but also signifies the great 
adversary, the devil, which, "as a roaring lion, 
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" 
(i Peter v. 8). This is the lion from whose mouth 
the Psalmist prays to be saved (Ps. xxii. 21), and 
to which St. Augustine refers when he exclaims in 
his Sermo de Tempore (clxxiv.), "who would not 

1 "Secundum regnum ergo Christo adsimilata sunt. Et 
alia multa sunt in creaturis habentia duplicem intellectum ; 
alia qusedam laudabilia, alia vero vituperabilia j et diflferen- 
tiam nabent inter se atque discretionem, sive moribus sive 

88 Animal Symbolism 

rush into the jaws of this lion, if the lion of the 
tribe of Judah should not prevail ! It is lion 
against lion, and lamb against wolf." The lion of 
the tribe of Judah is opposed to the devouring lion, 
and the lamb as the type of the meek and lowly 
Saviour is opposed to the fierce and insatiable 
wolf as the type of Satan. Christ, he adds, "is 
a lion in fortitude, a lamb in innocence; a lion be- 
cause He is invincible, a lamb because He is meek 
and gentle." In another discourse (Hom. xxxiv.) 
St. Augustine says the devil is impetuous as the 
lion and insidious as the dragon, raging openly 
like the former and lying in wait secretly like the 
latter. In former times the Church fought against 
the lion as it now fights against the dragon. In 
Sermo clxxix. the lion and the bear typify the 
devil, " who is figured in these two beasts, because 
the bear's strength is in its paw and the lion's in 
its mouth." In Sermo cxcvii. he says that as 
David throttled the lion and the bear, which took 
a lamb out of the flock, so Jesus Christ, whom 
David prefigured, throttled the lion and the bear, 
when He descended into hell and delivered the 
captive spirits out of their jaws. Thus both these 
animals are different embodiments of the Protean 
prince of darkness. On the bronze dooi's of the 
cathedral in Hildesheim are reliefs which date 
from 1015, and represent the history of sin and 
redemption ; in one of them a bear stands behind 
Pilate, whispering into his ear and filling his mind 
with diabolical suggestions. The bear as the type 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 89 

of Satan is found less frequently in architecture 
than in illuminated manuscripts and missals, and 
in carvings on caskets, crosiers, shrines, and other 
minor objects of art. 

Christ trampling on a lion, an adder, or a dragon 
(Ps. xci. 13) is often used to indicate His triumph 
over the powers of hell. The same idea was 
intended to be expressed, by sculpturing figures of 
deceased persons reclining on tombs with their feet 
resting on a lion, a dragon, or a dog, which was 
likewise regarded as an incarnation of the evil 
principle, in conformity with the apostle's asser- 
tion, " For without are dogs." At a later period 
the lion at the feet of a man symbolized manly 
strength and courage, and the dog at the feet of 
a woman signified undying love and fidelity. It 
was the substitution of the Aryan for the Semitic 
point of view that reversed the meaning of the 

The diabolification of the dog was due to the 
Hebrew misconception of its character ; and it is 
a curious fact that the Jews, who endowed a 
rapacious and offensive creature like the vulture 
with fictitious virtues, should have had no proper 
appreciation of one of the noblest and most useful 
of their domestic animals. The affection and 
fidelity of the dog seem to have made hardly any 
impression upon them. This oldest and most trusty 
companion of man is rarely referred to by them 
except in terms of contempt, and it is from this 
source that many derogatory expressions concerning 

90 Animal Symbolism 

dogs have passed into the common speech of to- 
day. When Elisha foretells the cruel conduct of 
Hazael, the latter exclaims: "Is thy servant a 
dog that he should do this great thing?" Job 
expresses the same scornful feeling when he says : 
" Now they that are younger than I have me in 
derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to 
have set with the dogs of my flock." Only in the 
apocryphal Tobit (v. i6; x. 14) is the dog treated 
in some degree as the friend and associate of man. 
Thus when Tobias and his companion set out on 
their journey to Media to collect a debt, it is said : 
"So they went forth both, and the young man's 
dog with them" — a simple touch that adds im- 
mensely to the beauty and realism of the picture. 
In the New Testament dogs are pariah beasts 
completely out of the pale of human interest and 
sympathy. There is an old legend that Jesus once 
saw a crowd of persons gathered round the carcass 
of a dog, and giving utterance to their disgust at 
the sight of such a loathsome beast. But as Jesus 
looked upon it He said : " How white its teeth 
are ! " The story is intended to illustrate, not His 
higher and truer estimation of the worth of the 
animal, but His own nobility of diaracter, and the 
generous optimism which avoided evil-speaking, 
and could discover admirable qualities even in so 
hideous a creature as a dead dog. Indeed there is 
nothing in Hebrew or early Christian literature to 
be compared with Homer's sympathetic description 
of Ulysses' dog Argus, or Arrian's characterization 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 91 

of the greyhound Horme (opjM??, "impetuous"), "the 
swiftest, sagest, and divinest" of beasts. With 
what fine appreciation he dwells upon her cunning 
and cleverness, and other excellent traits ! ^lian 
relates {De Nat. Animal.,v\\. 38) that a Magnesian 
war-hound, which distinguished itself at Marathon, 
was honoured with an effigy on the same tablet 
that recorded the valour of its master. The Avesta 
and other sacred books of the Parsis enjoin the 
greatest kindness and reverence towards the dog, 
whose sagacity, vigilance, and fidelity are regarded 
as the pillars of pastoral society ; and in the Indian 
epic, the Mah&bh&rata, the hero Yudhishthira re- 
fuses to enter Indra's heaven unless "his faithful 
dog shall bear him company." 

In the porch of Freiburg Minster are delinea- 
tions of the deeds of Samson in carrying off the 
gates of Gaza, tearing open the lion's jaws, and 
performing other exploits supposed to foreshadow 
the redeeming power of Christ. In this work the 
artist embodies the ideas of patristic exegetists, 
who show a vast amount of misapplied ingenuity 
in tracing analogies between the career of the 
Hebrew solar hero and that of the Sun of 
righteousness. (Cf. St. Augustine's De Samsone, 
Sermo I.) 

The column-sustaining lions, so often placed at 
the entrance of the churches, or used to support 
pulpits, as in Pisa, Sienna, Lucca, Chiusi, and 
elsewhere in Italy, and especially in Tuscany, 
represent Satan subdued and subjected to the 

92 Animal Symbolism 

service of Christianity. The same is true of the 
lion's head on the doors of the baptistery at 
Florence, and the cathedrals of Mayence and 
Hildesheim. In the vestibule of the cathedral of 
Piacenza, dating from the first half of the twelfth 
century, as well as in many ecclesiastical edifices 
, in Ferrara, Modena, and Rome, the columns rest 
upon the shoulders of men with lions underneath 
them, which have seized other men as their prey. 
They symbolize heretics, whom the devil heis got 
possession of, but who are overcome by the power 
of truth, and made to uphold the orthodox faith. 
Among other sculptures on the doors of a church 
I in Novgorod, is the head of a lion with open jaws, 
' in which are seen the faces of the damned writhing 
with agony, and above it the inscription : " Hell 
consuming sinners." St. Augustine, in his Senno 
de Tempore (Ixv.), compares Daniel in the lions' 
den with the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness ; 
but it is more commonly interpreted as typical of 
Christ's descent into hell, as, for example, at the 
entrance of the church of St. Porchaire in France. 

The characteristics attributed to the lion in the 
Physiologtis were familiar to mediaeval poets, and 
furnished them with an ample fund of metaphorical 
material. Thus Wolfram von Eschenbach, in his 
most celebrated poem, compares the hero Parzival 
and his half-brother Feirefiz to two lion's whelps 
roused to life and energy by the roar of battle. 
Again, in his epic Willehalm, he declares that in 
the fierce combat between Christians and paynims 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 93 

at Alischanz the noise produced by the blare of 
trumpets, the roll of drums, and the shouts of 
contending hosts was loud enough to call to life a 
lion's whelps. 

Thomasin von Zirclare, in the Welscher Gast, 
which describes court-life in Italy, and lays down 
general rules of conduct for princes, says that when 
sovereigns have done wrong, they should blot out 
all traces of it by humble repentance and increased 
beneficence, as the lion escapes pursuit by obliter- 
ating its foot-prints with its tail. Elsewhere he 
advises monarchs never to act on the impulse of 
the moment, but to give heed to three things before 
putting any project into practice : listen to coun- 
sellors, compare their views, and adopt the best 
advice, as the lion's whelps lie three days dormant 
after they are bom. The simile, in this case, is 
ridiculously inapt, but the Physiologus gives the 
key to it, and renders it at least intelligible. The 
same zoological myth was evidently in the mind 
of the old Spanish poet, Juan de Mena, when he 
described the mother of Lorengo d'Avalos as 
lamenting like a lioness (" como al que pare haze la 
leona ") over her dead son. Amorozzo da Firenze 
expresses the intensity of his susceptibility to the 
tender passion by asserting that the voice of his 
lady-love would suffice to revive him from death, 
as the voice of the lion reanimates its young. A 
Provengal erotic poet, Richard de Berbezilh, uses 
the same imagery to illustrate the same sentiment. 
Another old French poet, Guirant de Calanson, 

94 Animal Symbolism 

says: "As the lion sleeps with open eyes (huelks 
ubertz), so my spirit, even in slumber, beholds 
thee, O lady." 

Meister Stolle, in the Wartburgkrieg, would 
endow princes with the voice of the lion and the 
eyes of the ostrich, which hatches its eggs by 
gazing at them, so that they might rouse and 
animate their followers by word and look, inciting 
them to noble and knightly achievements. Rein- 
mar von Zweter praises the " ostrich eyes '' of the 
Emperor Friedrich II., as inspiriting and life- 
giving; and Pierre Espagnol informs us that the 
eyes of his lady-love are incubatory like those of 
the ostrich, causing sighs to germinate and spring 
up in his heart whenever she turns upon him an 
ardent glance. 

The next animal mentioned in the Physiologus 
is the lizard, which, when it gets blind in its old 
age, creeps into the crevice of a wall looking 
towards the east, and stretches out its head to 
the rising sun, whose rays restore its sight. " In 
like manner, O man, thou who hast on the old 
garment, and the eyes of whose heart are obscured, 
seek the wall of help, and watch there until the sun 
of righteousness, which the prophet calls the day- 
spring, rises with healing power and removes thy 
spiritual blindness." 

Representations of a lizard running along a wall 
or peeping out of some chink in it, either sculptured 
in stone or carved in wood, are not uncommon in 
mediaeval churches, especially among the decora- 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 95 

tions of the chancel. It was not the mere caprice 
of the architect that put the reptile there, but its 
presence is due to its significance as a symbol of 
the regenerating and illuminating influence of the 

The unicorn is another favourite type, and is 
thus described by the Physiologus : " It is a small 
animal, but exceeding strong and fleet, with a 
single horn in the centre of its forehead. The only 
means of capturing it is by stratagem, namely, 
by decking a chaste virgin with beautiful ornaments 
and seating her in a solitary place in the forest 
frequented by the unicorn, which no sooner perceives 
her than it runs to her and, 
laying its head gently in her 
lap, falls asleep. Then the 
hunters come and take it cap- 
tive to the king's palace and 
receive for it much treasure." 

Herein the unicorn resem- 

_ . 1 <<i 1 Capture of the Unicorn. 

bles our Saviour, who "hath ^Bestiary.) 

raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house 
of His servant David " ; and the work of redemp- 
tion, which neither thrones, nor dominations, nor 
heavenly powers could accomplish, He brought 
to pass. The mighty ones of this world were 
unable to approach Him or to lay hold of Him, 
until He abode in the womb of the Virgin Mary. 
As it is written : " And the Word was made flesh, 
and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the 
glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of 

96 Animal Symbolism 

grace and truth;" or as this passage is paraphrased 
in Le Bestiaire Divin — 

" Sul por la volontd de Dieu, 
Passa Deu por la Virgne m&re ; 
Et la Parole fut char faite, 
Que virginetd n'i ot fraite." 

In the border of the central lancet window in 
the apsis of the cathedral at Lyons is a representa- 
tion of this fable of the unicorn and the Virgin 
as a symbol of Christ's incarnation. It is rather 
awkwardly drawn, and the Virgin seems to sit 
astride of the unicorn's neck, but it Wcis evidently 
the intention of the artist to have the animal's 
head lying in her lap. There is a carving of the 
same kind in St. Botolph's Church at Boston, 
Lincolnshire, and a series of reliefs of a similar 
character may be seen in the cathedral at Toledo, 
in Spain. A curious German engraving of the 
fifteenth century, entitled " Von der menschwerdong 
gottes nach geistlicher auszlegong der hystori von 
dem einhoren," pictures the Annunciation and In- 
carnation as the chase of the unicorn. The arch- 
angel Gabriel, the leader of the hunt, winds his 
horn, from which is supposed to proceed the 
melodious greeting : " Hail, highly-favoured one, 
the Lord is with thee, thou blessed among women I " 
The unicorn, pursued by hounds, is running rapidly 
towards the Virgin, who sits with upturned eyes 
and hands folded across her breast in a state of 
ecstasy, while the horn of the animal is in perilous 
proximity to her lap. On her right are an altar 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 97 

with burning candles and a flowing fountain, a 
symbol of the waters of eternal life. In the back- 
ground God the Father holds a globe surmounted 
with a cross in one hand, and gives His benediction 
with the other. The three dogs are Mercy, Truth, 
and Justice, and denote the attributes of the 

Hunting the Unicorn. {Old German Engraving.) 

Saviour and the feelings which impelled Him to 
become incarnate, and to redeem the world from 
the dominion of Satan.^ This symbolism is more 
fully and clearly expressed in a German painting 
of the fifteenth or perhaps the beginning of the 

' Cf. Dr. Ulrich Finder : Der beschlossen gart des rosen- 
krants Marie, Niimberg, 1505, Band II., Blatt ix. Also 
Cahier : CaracUristiques des Saints dans PArt populaire, 
Paris, 1844. 


98 Animal Symbolism 

sixteenth century, now belonging to the Grand 
Ducal Library of Weimar. In this extremely 
elaborate and highly-finished work of art there are 
four dogs held in leash and barking at the unicorn, 
which is already in the lap of the Virgin ; their 
collars are labelled respectively Veritas, Justitia, 
Misericordia, and Pax ; the first two are dark- 
brown, the third light-brown, and the fourth white. 
The Virgin wears a greenish-brown dress studded 
with golden flowers, and a green mantle. Gabriel 
is arrayed in scarlet, and has wings of many 
brilliant hues. Gideon kneels behind her on his 
fleece of wool (Judges vi. 36-40). In the back- 
ground is a city representing Zion. To the right 
of the Virgin in the sky appears God the Father, 
with a large wreath of oak-leaves encircling His 
neck and resting on His shoulders, His hands 
upraised in the act of blessing, and the Christ-child 
descending on a beam of light and bearing a cross. 
At the lower end of the beam of light is a dove 
hovering over the Virgin's head and its beak 
directed towards her ear. This attitude of the 
dove, which is quite common, and indeed almost 
universal, in mediaeval and early modern pictures 
of the Annunciation, is intended to indicate the 
narve notion entertained by patristic writers and 
later theologians, that the conception of Christ was 
effected supernaturally through the Virgin's ear, so 
that she remained perfectly pure and immaculate, 
and her maidenhood intact. This qaeej^ theory 
had its origin probably in Gnostic speculations and 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 99 

the Greco-Judaic religious philosophy current in 
Alexandria, and was the result of a too literal 
interpretation of the doctrine of the Logos. As 
God spoke the world into existence, so the voice 
of the Most High uttering salutation through the 
mouth of the angel caused the Virgin to conceive, 
" and the Word was made flesh." But as spoken 
words are addressed to the ear, and through this 
organ find lodgment in the mind and thus bear 
fruit, it was assumed that the incarnation of the 
Logos was accomplished in the same manner : 
" Deus per angelum loquebatur et Virgo per aurem 
impregnabatur," says St. Augustine {Sermo de 
Tempore, xxii.) ; and this view, which was generally 
accepted by the Apostolic Fathers, is expressed eight 
centuries later in a verse attributed to Thomas k 

Becket — 

" Gaude Virgo, mater Christi, 
Quae per aurem concepisti." 

The same description of the miraculous event is 
given by the German mediaeval poet, Walther von 
der Vogelweide : " dur ir ore enphinc si den vil 
suezen." In the parish church (formerly belonging 
to the abbey) of Eltenberg on the Rhine, is an An- 
nunciation moulded in clay, baked and painted, in 
which the infant Jesus, attended by the Holy Spirit, 
descends from heaven on the breath of God the 
Father, and enters the ear of the Virgin. Similar 
representations are to be seen (so far as they have 
not been destroyed) at Oppenheim, on the portal of 
the cathedral at Wiirzburg, and elsewhere. The 

loo Animal Symbolism 

blast of Gabriel's bugle in the Weimar painting is 
no uncertain sound, but becomes articulate as : 
" Ave gratia plena, Dominus tecum," to which the 

The Annunciation. (Parish Church of Eltmherg.) 

Virgin responds : " Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat mihi 
secundum Verbum tuum." Indeed the air is full 
of floating legends taken chiefly from the Song 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture loi 

of Solomon, such as " Sicut lilium inter spinas, sic 
arnica mea inter filias " (As the lily among thorns, 
so my love among the daughters) ; " Fons hortorum, 
puteus aquarum viventium quae fluunt impetu de 
Libano " (A fountain of gardens, a well of living 
waters, and streams from Lebanon) ; " Veni Auster, 
perfla hortum et fluant aromata" (Come, thou 
south, blow upon my garden that the spices may 
flow out) ; " Turris eburnea " (Tower of ivory), etc. 
The Virgin sits behind a wicker fence or palisade 
in illustration of the passage : "A garden enclosed 
is my sister." Engravings of this painting have 
been frequently published ; as, for example, in the 
sixth volume of Curiositdten der physch- literarisch- 
artistisch- historischen Vor- und Mitwelt (Weimar, 
1817, p. 133); Revue Arckiologique (Paris, 1844-45, 
p. 462) ; Das Evangelische Jahrbuch, issued at 
Berlin ; and in a recent Christmas number of 
Harpers Magazine. There is another picture of a 
similar character at Weimar ; a third was formerly 
in the Hospital Church at Grimmenthal on the 
Werra ; and a fourth is in the cathedral at Bruns- 
wick, painted on one of the folding compartments 
of a triptych or altar-piece. The Virgin with the 
unicorn in her lap is on the outside, and the angel 
as huntsman with horn, spear, and dogs on the 
inside. Out of the mouth of the animal proceed 
the words : " Quia quern Cceli capere non possunt; 
in tuo gremio contulisti," — a punning form of ex- 
pression, which may refer either to the incarnation 
of Christ, or to the hunting of the unicorn : " Whom 

102 Animal Symbolism 

the heavens (highest powers) could not contain 
(capture), thou didst hold (take) in thy womb (lap)." 
The Virgin has a blue robe, the lower part of which 
is reddish ; a basket of manna is at her feet, and 
near her the legend : " Fons signatus " (a fountain 
sealed). The angel is dressed in white with a red 
mantle floating in the wind, and has four dogs 
in the leash.^ In the Grimmenthal picture the 
symbolism is still more striking. On the left of 
the tall and majestic angel is a lion howling over 
two motionless whelps, with the legend " Maria Leo," 
and just before him the eternal city or perennity of 
God (Perennitas Dei) ; above the gate of heaven 
{Porta Caeli) God the Father appears in the clouds 
between the sun and the moon ; across the disc of 
the former are the words " clara ut sol " (clear as 
the sun), and issuing from the mouth of the human 
face defined in the crescent of the latter the words, 
" Pulchra ut luna " (fair as the moon). On the left 
of the painting is a star {stella maris), and on the 
right a pelican feeding its young with its blood, 
and Moses talking with Jehovah in the burning 
bush. In the centre is Gideon kneeling on his 
fleece; behind him is the flowing fountain of the 
waters of eternal life ; above it a mirror with the 
inscription, " speculum sine macula " (a mirror 
without spot). An engraving of this picture, but 
without any interpretation of its symbolism, was 

1 Cf. Ribbentrop : Beschreibun^ der Stadt Braunschweig, 
where this work of art is ascribed, but without sufficient 
reason, to Lucas Cranach. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 103 

published in Friedrich Rudolphi's Gotha Diplo- 
matica oder Ausfuhrliche Historische Beschreibung 
des Furstenthums Sachsen-Gotha (Frankfurt am 
Main und Leipzig, 171 7, p. 310). It was an altar- 
piece, and was probably the work of Paul Lauten- 
sack, better known as Meister Paul of Bamberg, 
who was bom in that city in 1478, and died in 1558 
at Nuremberg, as an ardent and rather fanatical 
Protestant. In the latter half of the fifteenth and 
the early part of the sixteenth century, Grim- 
menthal was a noted place of pilgrimage, where 
many miraculous cures were said to have been 
effected through the agency of the Holy Virgin. 
The ruling prince, Wilhelm, of the House of 
Henneberg, a zealous Catholic, employed Meister 
Paul to decorate the interior of the church, and the 
artist devoted himself for ten years to the task, 
and received twelve thousand florins for his services, 
a sum regarded at that time as an exceedingly 
munificent remuneration. People flocked to this 
wonder-working shrine from all the countries of 
Europe, and no less than forty-four thousand 
persons are reported to have visited it in a single 
year. The maimed, the halt, and the blind were 
healed of their infirmities, but the medical virtue 
of the Madonna manifested itself most strikingly 
as a specific for syphilis, -or the Venusseuche, as 
it was commonly termed. According to an old 
Latin chronicler, there was in 1503 "a grand pere- 
grination to the Blessed Virgin at Grimmenthal, 
where an immense concourse gathered, chiefly on 

104 Animal Symbolism 

account of the French malady, otherwise called 
acute and burning leprosy (' principaliter propter 
malum Franzosiae, alias acutam lepram ac arden- 
tem dictam'), that raged for a period of more 
than ten years, during which time some three 
hundred Moorish knights or Ethiops ('quasi 300 
Mauri equites sive Aethyopes') passed through 
Silesia journeying thither." ^ The Reformation 
naturally tended to check these pilgrimages, and 
finally put a stop to them altogether. Luther 
himself felt a strong antipathy to this holy shrine, 
which he denounced as " ein rechtes Grimmenthal, 
Vallem furoris." In 1525 the revenues derived 
from pious offerings were so small that they hardly 
suliSced to defray current expenses, and in 1547 
the buildings, which formerly served to lodge 
pilgrims, were converted into a hospital, and the 
church was henceforth used merely for the cure of 
souls. But, although the method of healing had 
been officially secularized, the sacred place pre- 
served to a certain degree its traditional reputation 
in the minds of the people, until in 1767 the 
church, with all of Meister Paul's paintings, was 
destroyed by fire. The Virgin with a unicorn 
resting its head in her lap is quite common in 
ecclesiastical architecture, especially in stained 
windows, as for example in St. Redegonde, at 
Caen. Again, in an Italian engraving of the six 
triumphs of Petrarch, dating from the fifteenth 

' Ucurii Append, ad Fascicul. Tempor. ap. Pistorii Script. 
Reritm Germanicarum Vet., Francof., 1707, torn, ii., p. 6cx>. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 105 

century, and belonging to the Albertine collection 
in Vienna, the triumph of chastity is symbolized 
by a virgin seated and a unicorn with its head in 
her lap. In the background is a hunter blow- 
ing a horn, and rapidly approaching with a pack 
of dogs. In another engraving illustrating the 
same triumph the car of chastity is drawn by 

Superstitious notions about the peculiar virtue 
inherent in the unicorn's horn were quite current in 
the middle ages. Thus John of Herse, who made 
a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1389, records his 
observations on this point. " Near the field Helyon 
in the Holy Land," he says, " is the river Mai'a, 
whose bitter waters Moses struck with his staff 
and made sweet, so that the children of Israel 
could drink thereof Even now, evil and unclean 
beasts poison it after the going down of the sun ; 
but in the morning, after the powers of darkness 
have disappeared, the unicorn comes from the sea 
and dips its horn into the stream, and thereby 
expels and neutralizes the poison, so that the other 
animals can drink of it during the day. The fact, 
which I describe, I have seen with my own eyes." 
This story furnishes an excellent illustration of the 
value of human testimony, and the conclusiveness 
of ocular evidence, showing the little confidence 
to which the report of an extraordinary event is 
entitled, even when it rests, not upon hearsay, but 
upon the positive statement of an honest eye- 
witness. That John of Herse meant to tell the 

io6 Animal Symbolism 

truth, and thought he observed what he records, 
there is not the slightest reason to doubt. 

On account of this supposed anti-toxical pro- 
perty, the unicorn's horn was used for making 
spoons (so-called test-spoons), salt-cellars, and 
especially drinking-cups. Articles manufactured 
of this material held a prominent or rather an 
important place in the table-service of mediaeval 
nobles and princes, and were prized as a sure 
protection against all sorts of poison, as well as a 
specific for epilepsy and other forms of convulsion. 
A closer examination of these objects, which are 
now preserved as curiosities in museums, proves 
them to have been fabricated from the tusks of the 

Equally spurious are the so-called griffin's claws 
now preserved as relics in churches or as curiosities 
in museums, as for example in the churches of 
Hildesheim, Weimar, Cologne, and Gran on the 
Danube, and in the museums of Dresden, Vienna, 
and other European cities. They are simply horns 
of the Caffrarian buffalo. An interesting specimen 
of this kind is in the old abbey on the Inde, 
founded by Lewis the Debonair in the ninth cen- 
tury, and now known as Cornelimiinster, because it 
contains the relics of the canonized Pope Cornelius, 
among which the saint's horn or drinking-cup, 
styled the griffin's claw, holds the most conspicuous 
place. Hagiologists even tell us that a griffin gave 
it to the holy man out of gratitude for having 
been miraculously healed of epilepsy. This legend 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 107 

is related as an historical fact as late as 1755 in 
the Heiligthumsbiichlein, issued for the guidance 
and edification of pilgrims to the sacred shrine. 
On such occasions wonderful cures are believed to 
be wrought by pouring holy water from this horn 
on the sick and infirm. It has been customary 
for the last five centuries to exhibit these relics 
once in seven years for healing purposes. 

Samuel Bochart, in his Hierosoicon, written 
about the middle of the seventeenth century, 
cites a number of Arabian authors, who enlarge 
upon the marvellous peculiarities of the unicorn's 
horn. Among other curious statements, it is said 
that if the horn be cut lengthwise, it will be 
found to contain the figure of a man, a beast, a 
bird, or a flower, beautifully designed in white, 
and filling the whole shape froni the tip to the 

In the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach, 
among various remedies employed to heal the 
wound of Anfortas, king of the Gral, the heart of 
a unicorn and the carbuncle growing under its 
horn are mentioned. In the same poem Queen 
Orgeluse's lover, Cidegast, whom Gramoflanz has 
slain in combat, is extolled as "a unicorn in 
fidelity." In Heinrich Frauenlob's Kreuzleich (Lay 
of the Cross), Konrad von Wurzburg's Goldene 
Schmiede (Golden Smithy), and other poems of the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in praise of the 
Virgin, God the Father is represented as a hunts- 
man, pursuing the unicorn until it takes refuge in 

io8 Animal Symbolism 

the womb of the immaculate Mary. Reinmar von 
Zweter lauds the power of chastity, which was 
stronger than the Almighty ; and Hugo von Lan- 
genstein celebrates in florid and somewhat motley 
allegory the majesty of the maid whose loveliness 
and purity captivated and conciliated heaven's uni- 
corn, and thus averted the Divine wrath from our 
sinful world. In a German hymn of the fifteenth 
century addressed to the Virgin, she is said to have 
"tamed the unicorn and the hind "; and in a hunt- 
ing-song, quoted by Lauchert from Uhland's collec- 
tion (No. 339), the whole scheme of redemption is 
set forth as the outcome of the fascinations of " ein 
seuberlichs junkfrewelin." 

Metaphors drawn from the fabled habits of the 
unicorn, or allusions to them, are frequently met 
with in the effusions of mediaeval erotic poets, who, 
like the unicorn, would fain lay their heads in the 
laps of their ladies and be enslaved by their 
charms. The Suabian knight and minnesinger, 
Burkhart von Hohenfels, likens himself to the 
unicorn, because a fair woman has allured him to 
his destruction ; and Guido Cavalcanti, the contem- 
porary and friend of Dante, makes use of the same 
imagery in a sonnet addressed to Guido Orlandi, 
who was languishing in fatal thraldom to the all- 
subduing passion. Thibault, Count of Champagne 
and King of Navarre, describes in one of his lyrics 
the treachery of the hunters, who catch and kill the 
unicorn while lying faint and languishing in the 
virgin's lap, and adds — 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 109 

" Thus Love and my Lady have done to me, 
And my heart can never again be free." ' 

The unicorn, like the lion, has a twofold signifi- 
cation, and in the Waldensian Physiologus stands 
for Satan, who can be overcome only by purity 
and innocence. The enmity of the unicorn to the 
elephant, described by Isidore, and enlarged upon 
by the author of Le Bestiaire Divin, tends also to 
confuse the spiritual meaning, since both of these 
animals are types of Christ. The elephant is, how- 
ever, in this case, as we shall see hereafter, a sym- 
bol of fallen humanity. The Latin texts and the 
later popular versions of the Physiologus carry 
out the religious symbolism of the unicorn into 
the minutest doctrinal detail. Thus the single 
horn signifies the oneness of the Father and the 
Son, while the smallness of the animal and its 
similarity to the he-goat express the exceeding 
humility and condescension of Christ in consenting 
to become incarnate in the likeness of sinful man. 

According to Albertus Magnus, the horn of the 
African viper was said to rival that of the unicorn 
in its sensitiveness to poisons, and to show their 
presence by emitting perspiration ; for this reason, 
he adds, it was used for the handles of table-knives. 
This statement, however, he gives with reserve, as 
not sufficiently proven: "sed hoc non satis proba- 
tum est" {De Animal., lib. XXV. vi. 66y). Of the 

* " Et moi ont fait de tel semblant 
Amors et ma Dame, por voir ; 
Mon cuer n'en puis point ravoir." 

1 1 o Animal Symbolism 

antidotal and prophylactic virtue of the unicorn's 
horn in such cases the erudite Dominican and 
" doctor universalis " does not seem to have enter- 
tained the slightest doubt. 

In the Alexanderlied of Pfaffen Lamprecht we 
are told that Queen Candace — whose kingdom was 
"on the edge of the earth's abyss, where the sky 
revolves round it like a wheel on its axis " — pre- 
sented the Macedonian conqueror with a live uni- 
corn, which had been captured by means of a decoy 
virgin. The animal is described by the poet as a 
highly heterogeneous and utterly impossible crea- 
ture, having the body of a horse, the tail of a pig, 
the head of a stag, the feet of an elephant, and a 
long horn projecting from its forehead. The car- 
buncle concealed at the root of this horn is also 
mentioned, and its medicinal properties, so often 
described in mediaeval pharmacopceias, are extolled. 

The elephant, says the Physiologus, is a very 
intelligent animal, but has an exceedingly cold 
and passionless temperament. Therefore, when the 
time for copulation comes, the male and female 
betake themselves to a region in the neighbour- 
hood of Paradise, where the mandrake grows, and 
eat of this aphrodisiac plant, and thereupon beget 
young.^ Now when the period of parturition arrives, 

' The mandrakes which Reuben found in the field were 
used by his mother Leah for venereal purposes (Gen. xxx. 
14-16), and this precious pecuharity is enlarged upon in 
rabbinical literature. The Greeks spoke of them as anthro- 
pomorphic ; and according to popular superstition they 
spring from human sperm spilled on the ground, and are so 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 1 1 1 

the female elephant goes into a pond until the 
water touches her breast, and there brings forth her 
young, as the Psalmist says : " Save me, O God, 
for the waters are come into my soul." But the 
male keeps watch in order to ward off the dragon, 
which dwells in the pond, and seeks to devour the 
new-born elephant. 

The two elephants signify Adam and Eve, who ate 
of the forbidden fruit of the tree of life, and yielding 
to the power of sensual passion excited by it, begat 
children, and brought death and woe into the world. 

Another characteristic of the elephant is that 
when it falls down it cannot get up again, since 
it is unable to bend its knees. For this reason 
it always sleeps standing, and leans for support 
against a tree. The hunters take advantage of this 
bodily defect and, having discovered its sleeping- 
place, saw the tree almost asunder, so that when 
the huge beast leans against it the tree gives way, 
and the elephant falls to the ground, and there lies 
roaring helplessly. Then the other elephants hasten 
to its assistance, but all their efforts to raise it up 
are in vain ; at length a small young elephant comes, 
and, thrusting its trunk under the fallen animal, 
lifts it to its feet again. Now the first elephant 
symbolizes Adam, who fell "through a tree,"j.s an 
old English bestiary puts it, towards the fruit of 
which he had stretched out his hand. And all the 

full of animal life and consciousness that they shriek when 
torn out of the earth, so " that living mortals, hearing them, 
run mad." 

1 1 2 Animal Symbolism 

great prophets and the lesser prophets essayed in 
vain to restore him to his first estate; but "the 
new elephant, our Saviour," though accounted the 
least of all the prophets, was able to accomplish it, 
becoming a servant and abasing Himself that we 
might be exalted. 

Julius Caesar, in his commentary on the Gallic 
War (vi. 27), in speaking of the fauna of the 
country, describes an animal something like the 
unicorn as follows : " There is an ox having the 
form of a deer, from the middle of whose forehead, 
between the ears, there rises a single horn, longer 
and straighter than the horns of any other animal 
known to us, and spreading widely at the top in 
palm-like branches. The appearance of the male 
and the female is the same, and the shape and size 
of the horns are similar." He then adds : " There 
are also animals called alces [elks], like a deer in 
form and colour, but larger in size. They shed 
their horns, and their legs are without joints or 
articulations. They do not lie down to rest, and 
if they happen to fall to the ground they are 
unable to rise. The trees serve them for beds, 
against which they lean, and thus, slightly reclining, 
take their repose. When the hunters discover these 
places of resort, they either undermine the trees at 
the roots or cut them so far that the trunk has 
only the appearance of standing firmly, so that 
when the animals lean against them, according to 
their habit, the weakened trees give way and they 
fall together to the earth." The stiff and stilty 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 1 1 3 

manner in which the elk holds its legs in running 
and leaping, seems to have led Caesar to infer that 
they were without joints, and from this queer mis- 
take for such a sober and accurate observer to 
make the fabulous account of its method of sleep- 
ing could have easily arisen, especially as this was 
supposed to be the case with the elephant, the 
method of capturing which is also described in the 
Spanish Poema de Alexandra by Juan Lorenzo de 

Mediaeval poets use the statement that the ele- 
phant gives birth in the water as a symbol of 
baptismal regeneration, but the animal seldom 
figures metaphorically in madrigals or lays of love. 
The inditer of an amorous sonnet or soft ditty 
would hardly venture to compare himself or his 
sweetheart to the hugest and most unwieldy of 
pachyderms. It is rarely represented in sacred 
architecture, but is often found embroidered on 
sacerdotal vestments, and especially on chasubles, as 
a symbol of priestly chastity. Haufler {Archiv fiir 
Kunde osterreichischer Geschichtsquellen., 1850, ii. 
593) mentions a chasuble of the eleventh century 
at Gos near Loeben adorned with various animals, 
and among them elephants with towers on their 
backs, which he thinks typify prudence and virtue 
equipped to resist the powers of evil. It may be, 
however, that, after the original symbolism was 
forgotten, the elephant continued to be used merely 
as a traditional decoration, in which case the 
howdah and other trappings would naturally be 


1 1 4 Animal Symbolism 

added without attaching to them any special signifi- 

The serpent has four characteristics: (i) When 
it has grown old and its eyes are dim, it fasts forty 
days and forty nights until its skin shrivels and 
loosens. Thereupon it squeezes itself through a 
narrow crevice in the rocks, and thus casts its skin 
and renews its youth. And thou, O son of man, if 
thou desirest to put off the old Adam and be re- 
generated, must pass through the strait gate and 
walk in the narrow way, which leadeth unto life. 

(2) When the serpent goes to a spring to drink 
water, it leaves its venom in its hole ; so he, who 
would refresh his soul with the waters of eternal life, 
must leave behind him every sin of his carnal heart. 

(3) The serpent fears a naked man and flees from 
him, but assails him when he is clothed. Those 
who are acquainted with this characteristic of the 
serpent throw off their garments, when pursued by 
it, and thus save their lives. So, too, when Adam 
was naked in the garden and had no desire for 
raiment, the serpent could do him no harm. In 
like manner, if we do not trouble ourselves about 
the vanities of this world, we need not fear the as- 
saults of the wily serpent, the devil. According to 
this doctrine nudity is a sign of innocence and the 
sanctified should dispense with clothing, which 
originated in the fall of man and is a covering of 
sin, that may find a lurking-place even under the 
scanty vesture of a fig-leaf. The Adamites of the 
second, and the Picards of the fifteenth century 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 115 

held that those whom Christ had redeemed were 
restored to the original purity of our first parents 
in Eden, and should return to the primitive habits 
of the race, including nudity and sexual promiscuity, 
(4) When one seeks to kill the serpent, it exposes 
its whole body, in order to shield its head from the 
blows of its assailant. The application of this 
characteristic to Christians, who should endure 
every trial and affliction for the sake of Christ, 
their head, has already been noticed. The serpent 
shows its wisdom also in this, that it stops its ears 
to the charmer and refuses to listen to his spell, 
thus teaching us to shut our ears to Satanic sug- 
gestions. The notion that poisonous reptiles could 
be charmed so as to prevent them from stinging or 
to render their bite harmless, was based on such 
passages as Jer. viii. 17 and Ps. Iviii. 5, and seemed 
to be confirmed by the wonderful feats of Oriental 
fakirs and magicians. 

These imaginary attributes of the serpent are 
occasionally represented as religious symbols in 
churches among the wood-carvings of the chancel 
and the reliefs adorning the doorways or the 
capitals of columns, but more frequently in the 
illuminations of mediaeval manuscripts. Still more 
common is the metaphorical use of them by the 
poets of the middle ages in illustration of both 
sacred and secular subjects. Thus in one of the 
mystic spiritual songs of the Minorite Jacopone da 
Todi, the reputed and probable author of the 
Stabat Mater, the first characteristic of the serpent 

ii6 Animal Symbolism 

figures the love of Jesus, which purifies and renews 
the soul. The third characteristic is applied in a 
queer way by a troubadour, Bertolome Zorgi 
(quoted by Lauchert, p. i86, from Diez : Leben und 
Werke der Troubadours), who says of his lady-love 
that, like the serpent, she flees from him when he 
is naked, and is fearless in his presence only when 
he is clothed, surely no unusual display of timidity 
in a modest dame. It is also related in the Poema 
de Alexandro already cited, that as the army of 
the Macedonian monarch was passing through a 
desert and suffering intensely from thirst, the 
soldiers found a spring, which, however, was so sur- 
rounded by serpents that all who approached it 
were in danger of being bitten. But Alexander, 
who was not less distinguished for wisdom than for 
valour, ordered the men to strip, so that they went 
to the water unharmed by the serpents, which fled 
from them as from moving pillars of fire. The 
author tells many other marvellous stories of ani- 
mals, and assures the reader that they are all true : 
"esto es cosa vera." The serpent was likewise 
revered by the Egyptians as a symbol of regeneration 
and the renewal of life. 

The Physiologus states that when the eagle has 
grown old and its eyes have become dim and 
darkened, it flies upward towards the sun until it 
has scorched its wings and purged away the film 
from its eyes ; then it descends to the earth and 
plunges three times into a spring of pure water. 
Thus it recovers its sight and renews its youth. In 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 1 1 ' 

Eagle renewing its youth. 

like manner, when we have grown old 
sinful love of this world, and the eyes 
heart are obscured thereby, 
then should we seek the day- 
star of the divine word, and 
fly aloft on the wings of the 
spirit to the sun of righteous- 
ness, Christ, our Saviour, who 
will draw out of us the old 
man with all his works. And 
when we dip ourselves thrice 
in the new well-spring of sal- 
vation in the name of the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Ghost, then will the old garment of the devil 
be taken away, and we shall be clothed in the new 
and shining raiment which God hath made ready 
for us. 

The eagle can gaze at the bright sun without 
blinking, and is accustomed to carry its unfledged 
young on its wings upward and compel them to 
look upon the shining orb ; those which can do so 
with open and steadfast eyes it rears, but discards 
the others and lets them fall to the ground. Here 
the sun represents God the Father, upon whose face 
Christ can gaze undazzled by His glory, and to 
whom He presents the children of men who claim to 
have been born of Him ; those who are able to 
stand before God and to look upon the light of Hisi 
countenance are accepted, while the others are 

Again, we are told that the eagle looks from the 

1 1 8 Animal Symbolism 

uppermost region of the air into the depths of the 
sea, and when it perceives a fish swimming about, 
plunges into the water and seizing the fish bears it 
away to its aerie. Here the eagle typifies Christ, 
the sea the world, and the fish the elect whom He 
saves and takes to Himself 

The eagle renewing its youth by plunging into a 
fountain is the symbol of regeneration by baptism, 
and is therefore sometimes sculptured on fonts and 
baptisteries. In ecclesiastical architecture the eagle 
is often found perching alone, as, for example, in 
the church at Alne ; in the miniatures of the manu- 
script bestiaries belonging to the Arsenal Library 
and to the Royal Library of Brussels it is seen fly- 
ing with its newly-fledged young up towards the 
sun ; in a stained window in the cathedral at Lyons 
three eaglets are looking un- 
flinchingly at the blazing sun, 
while a fourth is falling to the 
earth ; a mosaic in the baptistery 
of Santa Maria di Capua repre- 
sents an eagle taking a fish out 
of the water, and the same scene 
is carved on a Celtic cross at 
St. Vigean's in Forfarshire, and 
•Eaglets gaziiiTat the sun. o" t^e jamb of a Norman door- 
, f,Lfoni catktdrai.\ way at Ribbcsford in Worcester- 
shire ; it is also found on a metal plate in the British 
Museum, and among the illuminations of a Celtic 
manuscript of the Book of Armagh at Trinity 
College, Dublin. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 1 1 9 

The fable of the rejuvenation of the eagle grew 
naturally enough out of the fact of the renewal of 
its plumage after moulting; but the Apostolic 
Fathers were not satisfied with this simple explana- 
tion of the words of the Psalmist (ciii. 5), and trans- 
formed an ordinary phenomenon into a supernatural 
and miraculous event, which would be more effec- 
tive for exegetical purposes. 

Aristotle {Hist. Animal., ex. 32) relates that the 
upper beak of very old eagles grows so long as to 
prevent them from eating and to cause them to die of 
hunger. In the Greek version of the Physiologus of 
the twelfth century the author adds that in order to 
remedy this evil and to avert this danger the eagle 
breaks off the superfluity of its beak, against a stone, 
a statement which is adduced by homilists and 
exegetists to prove that the rock of salvation is the 
only cure for the growth of carnal-mindedness, and 
the sole means of preventing spiritual starvation. 

In Dante's Divina Commedia (Pt. I. 47-48) 
Beatrice is said to fix her eyes on the sun as stead- 
fastly as never eagle did — 

" Aquila si non gli s'affisse unquanco." 

It was a test of Dante's fitness to visit the celestial 
spheres that he could do the same — 

" E fissi gli occhi al sole oltre a nostr'uso.'' 

Allusions to this notion occur in other parts of 
the poem. Ariosto uses the same imagery in one 
of his sonnets : " Although the young of the eagle 

120 Animal Symbolism 

may resemble the parent in its claws, head, breast, 
and plumage, but are not like it in keenness and 
strength of vision to endure the light, the eagle will 
not recognize them as its offspring. So the 
thoughts and desires of lovers should be in perfect 
conformity , . . Be not then different from me in 
any respect," he concludes, addressing his lady-love, 
" for you must accord with me wholly or not be mine 
at all "— 

" Non siete dunque in un da me difforme, 
Perchfe mi si confaccia il piu di voi ; 
Che o nulla, o vi convien tutta esser mia." 

A German poet, Wachsmut von Miihlhausen, 
declares that he will renew himself like the eagle 
and mount up joyously into the aether, " if thou, O 
lady, wilt console me in my sadness and my long- 
ing." Warriors, too, are praised or censured for 
possessing or not possessing the firm and unflinch- 
ing eye of the eagle, when in the heat of battle. 
Thomasin von Zirclare says, in the Welscher Cast, 
that sovereigns should not be blinded by bribes, 
but should keep their sight unclouded, so as to be 
able to look clearly and fixedly at the truth in the 
light of justice, as eagles look at the sun, and that 
they should renew their strength for righteousness 
and ruling in equity by seeking communion with 
the Most High. They are likewise to imitate the 
eagle, which breaks off portions of its beak, when 
it has grown so long and crooked as to be an im- 
pediment, an admonition which might be taken 
as a warning against the circumlocutions of court 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 121 

etiquette and the trammels of red tape. In the 
literature of a later day one of the most splendidly 
rhetorical passages in the peroration of Milton's 
Areopagitica is borrowed from this superstition of 
the eaglet renewing its youth and purging its sight 
at the source of all life and illumination. 

Strangely enough the fish is not especially men- 
tioned by the Physiologus, although in sacred 
iconology it occurs most frequently as a symbol 
of Christ, the Greek word IX0T2 being the initial 
letters of the Greek phrase signifying Jesus Christ 
God's Son Saviour, \r\<Tov'i 'Kpio'Tos @eov Tibs StorTj/o. 
But the fish, although proverbial among the Greeks 
for its stupidity, was carved on ancient tombs, 
because it was supposed to bear the soul of the 
deceased across the sea to the islands of the blest. 
This was especially the case with the dolphin, the 
strongest and swiftest of fishes, or, as Gregory of 
Nyssa calls it, the most royal of swimmers : 6 be\<f>Cs 
k(TTi Ttiiv vriKTmv 6 ^aaiXiKiiTaTos. It is possible that 
the dolphin was at first, for the same reason, sculp- 
tured on Christian tombs, and that the fish was 
afterwards substituted for it on account of the 
monogrammatic meaning of the word. 

The early Christians were accustomed to eat a 
roasted fish in commemoration of Christ's Passion, 
and a survival of this ceremony is the use of fish as 
an article of food on Friday. The fish was also sacred 
to Venus on account of its extraordinary fecundity ; 
for the same reason April, the opening [aperilis) or 
germinating month, was consecrated to this goddess, 

122 Animal Symbolism 

whose appropriate day {dies Veneris, venerdi, 
vendredt) was Friday, corresponding to Friatac, the 
day of Fria, the old German goddess of love. 
Patristic theologians were fond of seeking similitudes 
and discovering analogies between a baked fish 
and the suffering Christ : " inter piscem assum et 
Christum passum." Christian sepulchres are often 
adorned with frescoes or sculptures, in which the 
disciples are seated at a table furnished with a loaf 
of bread (the bread of life) and a baked fish. This 
is a sacramental or eucharistic meal. 

Of sea-creatures only the whale and the fabulous 
remora and serra or winged saw-fish are discussed 
in the Physiologus and in the bestiaries. The 
whale has two characteristics. First, when he is 
hungry and lusts after food, he opens his wide 
mouth seaward and a pleasant odour issues from his 
maw, so that other fishes are deceived and swim 
eagerly towards the place whence the sweet odour 
comes. In heedless shoals they enter into his ex- 
tended jaws ; then suddenly the grim gums close 
and crush their prey. Thus the devil allures men 
to their destruction and closes upon them the 
barred gates of hell, from which they can no more 
escape than the fishes sporting in the ocean can 
return from the mouth of the whale. 

Secondly, the mariners often mistake the whale, 
as it rests on the surface of the sea, for an island, 
on which they land and build a fire to cook their 
dinner, but when the whale begins to feel the heat 
through its thick hide, it plunges under the waves 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 123 

and engulphs all the brave seafarers with their 
high-prowed ships. In the old English bestiary 
this disaster is described in the succinct and graphic 
style of the old German epics. Here, too, the 
whale is the devil, the sea is the world, and the 
ship represents the human race. 

Brunetto Latino states that the whale often 
remains stationary on the surface of the ocean, 
until it becomes incrusted with earth. From the 
seeds dropped by birds in this soil trees and shrubs 
spring up and grow to large forests, so that sailors 
are easily deceived and mistake the animal for an 
island. In the Book of Esdras (vi. 6) it is said that 
Behemoth and Leviathan, when they were created, 
covered each a seventh part of the earth. The 
Talmud adds that it would take a ship three days 
to sail from the head to the tail of one of these 
monsters ; and some of the rabbis speak of whales 
fifteen stadia in length, which is a relatively sober 
estimate. An Arab writer maintains that the earth 
rests on the back of a whale, which performs the 
all-sustaining office of the turtle in Indian cosmog- 
ony, and that earthquakes and other convulsions of 
nature are caused by its occasional movements 
from one side to the other. The devil is constantly 
at work trying to persuade the whale to dive and 
thus destroy the world. Once the whale was just 
on the- point of yielding to these Satanic solicita- 
tions, but was prevented by the merciful interven- 
tion of the Almighty, whereby the globe and its 
inhabitants were saved from such a catastrophe. 

1 24 Animal Symbolism 

In architecture sometimes only the ship is 
represented, and the whale left to the imagination 
of the beholder, as for example in the old Norman 
church at Alne, or the whale is given and the ship 
omitted, one object being deemed sufficient to 
suggest the other. In the miniatures of the besti- 
aries the whole scene is 
usually depicted in such 
a manner as to illustrate 
both characteristics : the 
ship lies at anchor, the 
mariners are cooking 
Whale and ship. their dinner under the 

(Psalter of Isabella of France.) . . ^ , .- 

shadow of trees on the 
back of the whale, into whose extended jaws shoals 
of little fish are swimming. A parchment codex of 
the Icelandic version of the Physiologus, dating from 
the thirteenth century, and now preserved in the 
Ama-Magnaean collection ofthe University Library 
of Copenhagen, has two crude drawings, in which 
these characteristics of the whale are portrayed. 

The remora, called essinus {Ixfvrfi.^) in the 
bestiaries, and confounded with the sea-urchin, is 
a fish about a foot long and a native of the Indian 
Ocean, but so strong that it can keep a ship from 
moving by fastening itself to the keel. In storms 
it holds the vessel steady, and prevents it from 
capsizing when tossed by the tempest, and is 
therefore a type of the Saviour, the sea symbolizing 
the world, and the ship man buffeted by the waves 
of temptation, which threaten to engulph him. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 125 

Pliny (ix. 25 ; xxxii. i) extols the immense strength 
of this little fish, which, he says, decided the battle 
of Actium and the fate of the world by clinging to 
Anthony's galley and preventing it from going into 
action. Similar statements are made by ^lian 
(ii. 17) and Suetonius {In Caio, xlix.), from whom 
the authors of the bestiaries seem to have derived 
their information. Thus we are told that, when 
Caligula was returning from Astura to Antium, a 
remora sucked itself fast to the imperial five-decker, 
and neutralized the efforts of four hundred oarsmen. 
Again, as Periander was about to send a galley 
from Corinth to Corcyra to murder three hundred 
children, a great number of these fish fastened 
themselves to the vessel and kept it from sailing, 
although the wind was favourable. Out of grati- 
tude for this good deed the echeneis (ship-detainer) 
was fostered and revered in the temple of Venus 
at Cnidus. Oppianus, in his didactic poem on 
fishing (to. 'AA.i€uriK<i), describes the astonishment 
and anger of the fishermen, when their boats are 
kept stationary by the force of these sea-creatures. 
The marvels of this sort recounted by ancient 
writers are repeated and magnified in German 
mediaeval poems of heroic adventure and achieve- 
ment, like Graf Rudolf, Herzog Ernst, and the 
Alexander of Pfaffen Lamprecht. The remora 
is sometimes called serra, but the latter is usually 
described as a sea-dragon, a fire-breathing monster 
with wings like a griffin, the tail of a goose, 
and the feet of a swan. When it sees a ship it 

126 Animal Symbolism 

flies after it for thirty or forty leagues, but finally 
grows weary and turns back to disport in the sea. 
It symbolizes those who follow for a season in the 
wake of the Church, but through lack of persever- 
ance never reach the ark of safety. 

According to the Physiologus, the phoenix is a 
native of India and Arabia. When it is five 
hundred years old, it flies to Lebanon, and fills its 
wings with the fragrant gum of a tree growing 
there, and thence hastens to Heliopolis in Egypt, 
where it burns itself upon the high altar in the 
temple of the sun. When the priest comes on the 
next day to offer sacrifice, he removes the ashes 
from the altar, and finds therein a small worm of 
exceedingly sweet odour, which in three days 
develops into a young bird, and on the fourth day 
attains its full size and plumage, and greeting the 
priest with reverence returns to its home. But if 
the phoenix, adds the exegetist, is able to destroy 
itself and to come to life again, why should the 
Jews murmur at the words of our Saviour, when 
He said : " I have power to lay down My life, and 
I have power to take it again " 1 

The perfume which fills the two wings of the 
phoenix symbolizes the sweetness of divine grace, 
as diffused through the books of the Old and New 
Testaments. Other expositors of Pelagicin ten- 
dencies discern in these perfumes the good works 
which the righteous man accumulates, and by 
which he earns eternal life; and as the phoenix 
kindles the fire which consumes it by the fanning 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 127 

motion of its own wings, so tlie saint, mounting up 
on the wings of heavenly meditation, has his soul en- 
kindled and renewed by the flames of the Holy Spirit. 

Cremation as practised by the Romans would 
naturally serve to make the phoenix still more 
suitable and striking as a symbol of the Resurrection 
and of immortality; in this sense the bird in the 
act of burning itself was often sculptured on 
cinerary urns with the inscription D[is] M\anibus\, 
and is also mentioned in Jewish writings as an 
emblem of the renewal of life and vigour. The 
Greek word for date-palm and phoenix is the same 
(<f)o2viQ, and the tree was fabled to die and then 
to spring up anew like the fowl. The passage in 
Psalm xcii. 12, "The righteous shall flourish like 
the palm-tree " (&s <J)oIvl$), may mean in the Septu- 
agint like the phoenix, and was so understood by 
Tertullian and the Physiologus. 

The phcEnix, like so many other symbols, passed 
from the old to the new religion, and weis transferred 
from the pagan urn to the Christian sarcophagus. 
Sometimes a date-palm is used to express the 
same idea; and very frequently the tree and the 
bird appear together. Mosaics in many early 
Christian churches, as for example in SS. Cosma 
e Damiano, St. Prassede, and St. Cecilia in Traste- 
vere, represent the phtenix with a nimbus. Among 
the mosaics adorning the tribune of the Lateran 
is a large cross, and beneath it the New Jerusalem, 
out of the midst of which rises a stately palm-tree 
with a phoenix perched on its top. 

128 Animal Symbolism 

A similar type of the atoning Christ is the 
pelican, tearing open its breast and feeding its 
young with its own blood. When they are partly 
grown they smite their parents in 
the face and the old birds kill 
them; but no sooner do the 
parents perceive what they have 
done than they repent of their 
rashness and have compassion on 
their dead ofTsprihg, and, sprink- 
ling them with their own blood. 
Pelican. (B^stia^.) ""^^^ore them to life. In like 
manner, Christ was beaten and 
buffeted by the children of men, and yet shed 
His blood in order to give them eternal life. St. 
Augustine refers to this fable in his commentary 
on Psalm cii. 5 : "I am like a pelican in the 
wilderness," and says : " The males of these birds 
are wont to kill their young by blows of their 
beaks, and then to bewail their death for the space 
of three days. At length, however, the female 
inflicts a severe wound on herself, and letting her 
blood flow over the dead ones, brings them to 
life again." This supposed fact of natural history 
is often adduced by patristic theologians in illus- 
tration and confirmation of the doctrine of the 
Atonement. In some old books of emblems, as 
well as in architecture, the same conduct is ascribed 
to the eagle and the vulture. The Egyptian Hor- 
apollo says : " The vulture is the type of the merci- 
ful man, because, if food cannot be obtained for its 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 129 

young, it opens its own thigh and permits them to 
partake of its blood, so that they may not perish 
from want." The Hebrew word for vulture, rdcMm, 
meaning a compassionate creature, was doubtless 
a recognition of this supposititious virtue. On a 
gold coin of the time of Hadrian the phoenix 
appears with the inscription scsc. aur., as indi- 
cating the restoration of the golden age under 
his reign ; it occurs later on the coins and medals 
issued by Constantine and other Christian emperors. 

On the principal door of St. 
Laurence in Nuremberg a burn- 
ing phoenix is sculptured under 
the lintel on the right, and a 
pelican, in the act of piercing its 
breast to feed its young, under 
the lintel on the left. There 
are similar representations on 
the doorway, as well as on the ^^^"^"^ ''^"''■'"^■' 
capitals, of some columns in the Ernestine Chapel 
of Magdeburg Cathedral, and probably date from 
the thirteenth century. Phoenix and pelican are 
carved on the stalls of Bale Minster, belonging to 
the latter half of the fifteenth century. In the 
northern transept of the cathedral at Lund in 
Sweden, over the window, is a pelican rending 
its breast with its beak, and on the western wall 
a phoenix burning in its nest; on the eastern 
wall is a crucifix, and over an arch to the south 
a lion tearing a man, showing how the devil 
deals with heretics. There are in the same church 


1 30 Animal Symbolism 

some curious carvings of animals on the stalls of 
the choir, symbolizing the conflict between Chris- 
tianity and paganism. The phoenix and pelican 
are frequently associated with other creatures hav- 
ing a like spiritual significance. Thus in a picture 
with a Latin inscription in the church of St. 
Laurence, and one with a German inscription in 
St. Sebald's church in Nuremberg, the phcEnix 
and the unicorn are on one side, and the pelican 
and the lion on the other side, emphasizing and 
enforcing by an accumulation of types the doc- 
trines of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of 
Christ, and the redemption of mankind through 
His sufferings. A painting of a similar character, 
belonging to the Cologne school of the fourteenth 
century, was formerly in the possession of Dr. Bessel, 
president of the provincial court of Saarbriicken. 

In the Florentine Galleria degli Uffizi, in the 
cabinet of gems, is a shrine of mountain crystal 
containing a golden casket adorned with a phcenix 
in enamel, and bearing the inscription " sic moriendo 
vita perennis." It is a masterpiece of one of the 
most celebrated lithoglyphic artists of the sixteenth 
century, Valerio Belli of Vicenza, better known as 
Valerio Vicentino, who made it for Pope Clement 
VII. (1523-34) as a pyx or receptacle for the host 
The outer case is of rock crystal, and embellished 
with scenes from the life and Passion of Christ. 

Both the phcenix and the pelican are used by 
sacred and secular poets of the middle ages and 
of modern times to illustrate the power of heavenly 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 131 

and earthly love. Dante makes an original appli- 
cation of the fable in the Inferno (xxiv. 97-108), 
where he describes the damned in the seventh 
circle of hell as being burned and born again from 
their ashes to suffer an endless repetition of their 
torments, as the phcEnix dies and renews its life 
every five hundred years. Elsewhere (Pt. xxv., 
112) he speaks of Christ as "our pelican." The 
Sicilian lyrical poet, Inghilfredi, who flourished in 
the thirteenth century, confesses in one of his 
canzoni that he is at once consumed and rejuven- 
ated by the fires of love, like the phoenix; and 
the Proven9al poet, Aimeric de Pregulhan, is af- 
fected by the tender passion in the same way, and 
expresses himself in identical language. Giovanni 
dair Orto, in La Notte Gioconda, praises the breath 
of the loved one as sweeter than the spices brought 
by the phoenix from India and Sheba for its funeral 
pyre. In another passage he entreats the fair dame, 
who has slain him in her anger, to take pity on 
him and, like the pelican, restore him to life by 
the manifestations of her affection. Reinmar von 
Zweter expresses the hope that the good may be 
self-renewed like the phoenix, but that the bad may 
remain without issue like the same mythical fowl. 
Similes of this sort, in which diverse characteristics 
of a single animal serve to illustrate opposite quali- 
ties, were deemed especially clever. 

The otter is described as a small animal re- 
sembling a dog, and an enemy of the crocodile. 
When the latter sleeps it keeps its mouth open; 

132 Animal Symbolism 

but the otter wallows in the mire until it becomes 
thickly coated with mud, which dries and hardens 
and forms a sort of armour, thus enabling it to 
run securely into the jaws and down the throat of 
the sleeping crocodile, and to kill it by devouring 
its bowels. So our Saviour, after having put on 
flesh, descended into hell and carried away the 
souls dwelling therein ; and as the otter comes 
forth unharmed from the belly of the crocodile, so 
our Lord rose from the grave on the third day, 
alive and uninjured. The ichneumon is fabled to 
slay the dragon in the same manner, and both 
animals are symbols of the triumph of the incarnate 
God over Satan. 

Strabo states that the ichneumon attacks poison- 
ous serpents, but never single-handed. It was 
therefore used in Egyptian hieroglyphics as an 
ideograph, signifying that union is strength, .^lian, 
Plutarch, and Pliny relate its feats of heroic auda- 
city in entering the maw and eating the entrails 
of the crocodile ; it was said to hunt up and destroy 
the eggs of this reptile, and was therefore cherished 
and revered as a public benefactor ; hence, too, its 
name, the "tracker." As a matter of fact, how- 
ever, it not only devours insects and small quad- 
rupeds, but also destroys doves, domestic fowls and 
their eggs, and all kinds of fruits, and does immense 
harm to the husbandman. The fellahin have no 
greater foe. The Greek word for otter, iwdpis, 
signifies also water-snake, and this ambiguity has 
caused it to be confounded with the hydra, whose 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 133 

many heads, growing again as soon as they are 
lopped off, symbolize the fearfully prolific and 
ineradicable nature of original sin. For this reason 
the otter in the Waldensian Physiologus becomes 
the type of the devil, who puts on cunning dis- 
guises in order to insinuate himself into the heart 
of man and to compass his destruction. Owing to 
this confusion of terms the otter most frequently 
appears in the delineations of the artist as a ser- 
pent eating its way through the bowels of a 
nondescript monster supposed to be a crocodile. 

Otter and Water-snake. {Psalter of Isabella of France.) 

It is the nature of the panther to live in friend- 
ship with all animals except the dragon. It has 
a beautiful skin of many colours, like Joseph's coat, 
and is an exceedingly beautiful beast, tame and 
gentle. When it has eaten a little it is satisfied, 
and goes to sleep in its lair, and after three days 
it awakes and roars with a loud voice, and out of 
its mouth proceeds a sweet smell. Then all the 
beasts of the forest far and near follow after it, 
attracted by this odour, which, according to an old 
English bestiary, is 

" A steam more grateful, 
Sweeter and stronger 
Than every perfume. 
Than blooms of plants 

134 Animal Symbolism 

And forest-leaves, 
Nobler than all 
Earth's ornaments." 

This rare scent is offensive only to the dragon, 
which hastens to flee as soon as it gets a sniff of 
it. In like manner our Lord Jesus Christ arose 
out of the sleep of death, and drew all nations unto 
Him through His " sweet savour." As the Psalmist 
says : " The king's daughter is all glorious within ; 
her clothing is of wrought gold;" so the adorn- 
ment of our Saviour is variegated through chastity, 
purity, meekness, kindness, peace, temperance, and 
every excellence. Again, in the words of the wise 
man : " Because of the savour of thy good oint- 
ments, thy name is as an ointment poured forth, 
therefore do the virgins love thee." " Draw me, we 
will run after thee." "The smell of thine ointments " 
he declares to be " better than all spices." Also the 
passage in Hosea (v. 14), which reads in the Sep- 
tuagint, " I will be unto Ephraim as a panther and 
as a lion to the house of Judah," is cited as perti- 
nent. Finally Christ, like the panther, discomfits 
" the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil." 

A German poet of the twelfth century attributes 
the perfume of the panther's breath to its diet, con- 
sisting of aromatic roots and herbs that impart to 
it a balmy quality, which is not only grateful to 
the senses, but also healing to the beasts that 
inhale it. According to this view, the creature is 
a sort of peripatetic sanitarium, and is for this 
reason attended by a large concourse of animals 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 135 

which seek to be cured of their ailments. The 
attraction is not so much aesthetic and sentimental 
as medical or veterinary. The hygienic influence 
of the panther is prophylactic as well as remedial, 
so that, if one were disposed to carry the quib- 
bling spirit of patristic theologians into the pro- 
vince of paranomasia, the beast might be called 
" an ounce of prevention." The breath of the 
panther is often likened to the virtue which went 
out of Christ and healed the woman who touched 
the hem of His garment. 

In ecclesiastical architecture the panther is some- 
times represented as facing the dragon, as, for 
example, on the doorway of the church at Alne, in 
Yorkshire. More frequently, however, the dragon 
is fleeing from the pan- 
ther, which is followed by 
numerous beasts, usually 
divided into two groups, 
those nearest the panther 
typifying the Jews, and 
those farther off 'the Gen- P''"*" ^"'i Dragon. ^BeMary.) 

tiles ; as the Apostle Paul says of Christ, He " came 
and preached peace to you which were afar off, 
and to them that were nigh." 

In Hugo von Langenstein's poem, The Mar- 
tyrdom of St. Martina, written in 1293, a very 
elaborate allegory of the panther is introduced to 
illustrate the sufferings and virtues of his holy 
heroine. He characterizes Christ as the " heavenly 
panther," and the variegated skin of the animal is 

136 Animal Symbolism 

minutely interpreted in a mystical sense as sym- 
bolizing the wisdom, love, humility, mercy, justice, 
and other attributes of the Redeemer, about twenty 
of which are specially mentioned. Lauchert gives 
numerous examples of rhetorical and metaphorical 
allusions to this fable in profane literature. Thus 
an anonymous troubadour of the thirteenth century 
compares the power of Amor to that of the panther, 
whose sweet breath and beautiful colour attract all 
beasts with so irresistible force that they would 
rather die than not to follow in its footsteps. The 
Sicilian lyric poet Inghilfredi, already mentioned, 
expresses the fascination he feels by the same 
simile. Guido delle Colonne and Messer Polo 
celebrate the modesty of their mistresses, who are 
as unconscious of their sweetness and beauty as 
the panther. The same imagery is employed by 
poet laureates and royal panegyrists. Frauenlob 
likens the persuasive voice of Count Ludwig of 
Oettingen to the sweet breath of the panther ; and 
another Meissen poet uses this comparison with 
reference to Albrecht II. of Brandenburg, the 
founder of Berlin. Master Rumeland of Saxony, 
a wandering minstrel, who sang the praises of 
many princes, extols Duke Ludwig of Bavaria as 
an eagle, a leopard, a panther, and indeed a whole 
menagerie of typical beasts and birds. Konrad 
von Wiirzburg turns the point of the trope against 
low-minded sovereigns, and says that a mean 
prince shuns the society of the pure and noble 
as the dragon flees from the panther. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 137 

In the Lay of tfie Nibelungen, Siegfrid bears a 
large quiver covered with panther's skin, which 
emits a pleasant odour, and emblematizes the irre- 
sistible charm of the youthful hero ; and in Pfaffen 
Lamprecht's Alexander, a curious work of the 
goldsmith's art belonging to Queen Candace is 
described, namely, an automatic panther, which 
not only howled, but also exhaled sweet perfumes. 
The account is too realistic to be a mere product 
of the fancy, and is probably the description of 
something which the poet had seen, and, if so, 
proves to what perfection this kind of artistic 
handicraft was carried in the twelfth century. The 
characteristics of the panther are likewise set forth 
in Reinaert de Vos (Martin's ed., pp. 54-5 S s<iq^- 

The later bestiaries derive the word panther from 
-nav, signifying all, and implying that it was the 
whole world which Christ came to redeem. This 
idea of the universality of the Atonement is ex- 
pressed by the Norman clerk in Le Bestiaire Divin 
as follows — 

" Pantiere dit, qui bien entent, 
Tant comme chose qui tot prent, 
Et senefie, sanz error, 
Jhesu Crist nostre Sauveor, 
Qui par sa grant humility 
Vesti nostre charnalit^, 
Et trest toz les siecles a sei." 

In this connection it may be mentioned as a sin- 
gular coincidence that, according to an ancient 
tradition, the real father of Jesus was a Roman 
soldier named Panthera. 

138 Animal Symbolism 

The three beasts that obstructed Dante's path as 
he found himself at the midway of life erring in a 
dark and savage wood, were a panther, a lion, and 
a wolf, supposed to be the types of luxury, pride, 
and greed ; but they have nothing in common with 
the animal symbolism of the Physiologus. 

The testicles of the beaver, we are told, contain 
a precious substance, which heals divers diseases, 
and especially convulsions, once regarded as a sure 
sign of diabolical possession. When the animal is 
pursued by the hunters, and 
is in danger of being caught, 
it bites off its private parts 
and thus saves its life; for 
it is a sagacious creature, 
and knows why it is hunted. 
Afterwards, when it is 
chased, it throws itself on its 
" ""■^' back, so that the hunter may 

see that what he seeks is no longer there, and go his 
way. But thou, O man, separate from thyself the 
works of the flesh, which are adulteries, fornications, 
revellings, and envyings, and throw them to the 
devil, who hunteth after thy soul, saying : " I will 
pursue my enemies and overtake them." Then 
canst thou exclaim with the Psalmist : " Our soul 
is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler ; 
the snare is broken, and we are escaped." 

It is well known that the beaver secretes in two 
inguinal sacs a caseous substance with a pungent 
perfume called castoreum. The fable related by 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 139 

the Physiologus is of very ancient date, and is 
recorded by the Egyptian priest Horapollo, as well 
as by Apuleius, Pliny, ^lian, and Juvenal, and was 
generally accepted as true by mediaeval writers. 
Albertus Magnus, as we have seen, rejects it as 
" false, although frequently reported in parts of our 
land." In art, the beaver is commonly represented 
in the act of self-mutilation, which suffices to tell 
the whole story, the hunters being left to the imagin- 
ation. Konrad von WUrzburg chooses an odd and 
rather far-fetched comparison, when he commends 
to princes the prudence of the beaver, which saves 
its life by voluntarily depriving itself of what is 
dearest to it ; he thereby intends to inculcate the 
virtue of liberality freely exercised for the public 
weal, and without stint of self-sacrifice. 

Still more marvellous is the account which the 
Physiologus gives of the hyena. This filthy beast, 
he says, haunts cemeteries and feeds on corpses. 
It has also the power of changing its sex, the same 
individual being sometimes male and sometimes 
female. This characteristic is used to illustrate 
the vice censured by Paul in his epistle to the 
Romans (i. 2, 27). In the Latin version of the 
Physiologus the hyena is made a type of the Jews, 
who at first had a knowledge of the true and living 
God, but now subsist on dry bones and dead cere- 
monials. They were the prophets of the Messiah 
and foretold His advent, but rejected Him when He 
appeared. As Jeremiah says (xii. 9, Septuagint) : 
" The lair of the hyena has become my heritage." 

1 40 Animal Symbolism 

In the bestiaries the words of James (i. 8, curiously- 
enough attributed to Solomon), " A double-minded 
man is unstable in all his ways," and the saying of 
Christ, " No man can serve two masters," are cited 
as texts, the truth of which the habits of the hyena 
exemplify and establish. 

In the apocryphal epistle of Barnabas (ix. 8) it 
is said : " Neither shalt thou eat of the hyena ; that 
is, again, be not an adulterer, nor a corrupter of 
others ; neither be like to such. And wherefore so ? 
Because that creature every year changes its kind, 
and is sometimes male and sometimes female." 
Philippe de Thaun, in his Book of Creatures, speaks 
of the hyena as " une beste mauvaise et orde," a 
foul and ugly beast, stinking and very fierce, digging 
into graves and devouring carrion. He begins his 
account of this animal with the following general 
observations — 

" Moult est a dire et a retraire 
Es essamples del Bestiaire, 
Qui sunt de bestes et de oiseaus, 
Moult profitables, boens et beaus. 
Et le livre si nos enseigne 
En quel guise le mal remaigne, 
Et la veie que deit tenir 
Cil qui a Deu veut revertir." 

Sir Walter Raleigh, in his History of the World 
(London, 1614), excludes hybrids from Noah's ark, 
and mentions hyenas as belonging to this class. 
He asserts that only pure species were saved, and 
not mongrels. After the Deluge, hyenas, he says, 
were reproduced by a cross between the dog and 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 141 

the cat. This notion is about as correct as his 
belief that before the Deluge there were mountains 
thirty miles high, which were reduced to their 
present elevation by the abrasive action of the 

The eyes of the hyena are fabled to turn into 
jewels when it dies; and the Physiologus asserts 
that it has in its eye a stone which, if it be placed 
under the tongue, enables a man to foretell future 
events. In the East the hyena is universally 
regarded as an incarnation of the sorcerer, and 
Arabian folk-lore is especially full of fearful stories 
of the doings of wizards and witches, who assume 
this form for diabolical purposes. The fact that 
the hyena is seldom seen by day, but begins to 
make night hideous with its cries as soon as it 
grows dark, tends to confirm the popular super- 
stition that the creature is a man who has trans- 
formed himself into this filthy beast with the going 
down of the sun. For this reason a dread of the 
hyena as uncanny and capable of inflicting injury 
by malign and magical influences, prevails among 
all African and Asiatic peoples, where this animal 
has its habitat. Dogs, it is believed, lose their 
bark and scent if the shadow of a hyena falls upon 
them; he who tastes of its brain goes mad, and 
the hunter who kills it is sure to be pursued by its 
vindictive ghost. 

In architecture the hyena is usually represented 
as preying upon the prostrate form of a man, 
probably a corpse, which it has dug out of a 

142 Animal Symbolism 

grave ; it symbolizes vice battening on corruption. 
Sometimes, as among the sculp- 
tures on the church at Alne, we 
find the figure of the hyena 
standing alone, an embodiment 
of the evil principle in its most 
offensive form. 

The salamander is a large 
yena. esiiary.) lizard, which does not fear the 
fire, but puts it out by passing into it, and typifies 
the righteous man, who is not consumed by the 
fires of luxury and lust, but extinguishes them. 
As the Apostle Paul states : " Through faith they 
stopped the mouths of lions and quenched the 
violence of fire"; and the prophet Isaiah says of 
the just man : " When thou walkest through fire 
thou shalt not be burned." This was the case 
with the three Hebrew youths Ananias, Azarias, 
and Misael (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), 
who were cast into the burning fiery furnace, and 
came forth unharmed, with no smell of fire on their 

The incombustible mineral substance known as 
amianthus was once supposed to be salamander's 
skin. In Les Proprietez des Bestes it is related 
that the Emperor of India had a full suit of 
clothes made of a thousand skins of salamanders, 
which he wore as a coat of mail in battle; and 
Vincent de Beauvais in his Speculum Naturale 
asserts that Pope Alexander III. had a tunic 
made of the same stuff, which was palish white 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 143 

in colour, and, when dirty, was cleansed by being 
thrown into the fire instead of being put into the 
wash-tub. There is no reason for regarding these 
stories as mere inventions, except in respect to the 
nature and origin of the material, since this method 
of cleaning asbestos garments by heating them 
red-hot is still practised by some tribes of Western 

This fabulous and formidable lizard has been 
reduced by more careful observation to a small 
frog-like reptile with rows of tubercles on its sides, 
which secrete a milky poisonous fluid in sufificient 
quantities to extinguish a live coal and slightly to 
retard the action of fire. 

Italian erotic poets are fond of referring to the 
salamander as typical of the lover, who either rejoices 
in the amorous fire (" il fuoco amoroso ") as his 
native element, or regrets that he does not possess 
the nature of this reptile in order that he may not 
be utterly consumed by his passion. 

"As the partridge gathereth young which she 
hath not brought forth, so he that getteth riches 
and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of 
his days, and at his end shall be as a fool." This 
passage from Jeremiah is quoted by the Physio- 
logus as referring to the thievish propensity of the 
partridge in stealing the eggs of other birds and 
hatching them, but when the young are grown, 
they recognize their real parents and fly to them, 
leaving their self-constituted foster-mother stand- 
ing alone like a fool. This bird is the type of the 

144 Animal Symbolism 

devil, who seeks to gather to himself the children 
of men, but when they grow in wisdom and are 
come to a knowledge of the truth, they forsake 
the devil and his works, and flee to their natural 
mother, the Church. 

The habit here ascribed to the partridge does 
not seem to have been known to any Greek or 
Roman naturalist; but in the Institutes of Manu 
it is said that persons who steal raiment are 
destined to be reborn as grey or speckled par- 
tridges, according to the colour of the vestments 
stolen. The penalty thus inflicted by the strictly 
retributive laws of metempsychosis would imply 
certain pilfering propensities on the part of the bird, 
and may be based upon a supposed tendency to steal 
eggs originating in a desire for numerous offspring. 
The partridge is monogamous in its domestic 
habits, and has the feeling of conjugal attachment 
and parental affection very strongly developed. 
It possesses a remarkably benevolent disposition,, 
and is distinguished in a high 
degree for the sentiment corre- 
sponding to philanthropy or 
altruism in man, adopting the 
orphans of other partridges and 
treating them with the same ten- 
derness as its own young; but 
there is no evidence that its philo- 
^*FSsteriS'gl''°'^ progenitiveness ever manifests 
(Bestiary:) itself iu thievery of any sort. 

That such an exceptionally noble and virtuous fowl 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 145 

should be condemned to figure the devil in Christian 
typology is only an additional proof of the per- 
versions of hermeneutical theology. 

Artistic delineations of this supposed charac- 
teristic in bestiaries, missals, and other books of 
devotion, as well as in sacred edifices, usually 
show the partridge sitting alone in her nest, while 
her fosterlings are hastening to join their real 
mother in the air above. 

The charadrius (a species of plover) is a white 
bird without a dark spot on it ; and when a person 
is sick it is brought to his bedside in order to 
determine whether he will recover or not. If the 
sickness is unto death, then the bird turns away 
from him ; but if he is predestined to live, then 
the charadrius looks steadfastly into his face and 
draws the malady out of him, and, flying up 
towards the sun, causes the disease to be con- 
sumed by the solar heat, so that the sick man is 
restored to health. In like manner Jesus Christ, 
on whom there was neither spot nor wrinkle, came 
down from heaven and turned his face away from 
the Jews, but looked with favour upon the Gentiles 
and healed them of their spiritual infirmities. Only 
those upon whom the Lord lifts up the light of 
His countenance are sure of eternal life. 

In architecture, and in the formative arts 
generally, the charadrius is represented as looking 
at the sick person or turning away its head, or 
quite frequently as flying up into the air. The 
last-mentioned movement of the bird is also a sign 


146 Animal Symbolism 

of restoration to health, since it is carrying off the 
malady or, more scientifically speaking, the bacteria 
of disease to be burned and destroyed by the 
intense heat of the sun. This scene is carved in 
stone on the doorway of the church at AIne ; and 
in the border of a lancet window in the apsis of 
the cathedral at Lyons is the picture of a woman 
half-reclining on a couch, while a bird is stretching 
out its beak close to her left hand, which lies in 
her lap, and another bird is flying towards her 
with its head slightly averted. Such delineations 

Charadrius. {Bcsimry.) 

are often found in missals, prayer-books, and similar 
aids to devotion, as, for example, in the profusely 
and curiously illustrated manuscript psalter of 
Isabella of France, now in the Royal Library at 

The marrow of the thigh-bone and the lungs of 
this bird, which were believed to be a sure cure 
for blindness, are compared to the chrism, and 
signify the supernatural power that opens the eyes 
of the spiritually blind and causes them to perceive 
the truth, as in the case of Saul. 

A minnesinger likens his lady-love to the chara- 
drius, and declares that it is a question of life or 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 147 

death whether her face is turned from or towards 
him. Another poet wishes that he possessed this 
fatal faculty in order that he might turn his eyes 
from mean and sordid mortals and thus destroy 
them, and insure long life to the noble and liberal- 
minded by looking benignantly upon them. 

Both the crow and the turtle-dove are typical 
of Christian constancy and devotion. If either of 
these birds loses its mate, it never takes another, 
but lives a life of solitude. As our Lord went 
with only three disciples to the Mount of Olives, 
where He was transfigured before them and heard 
an approving voice from heaven, so His followers 
should withdraw from the world and devote them- 
selves to religious meditation. 

The turtle-dove is often referred to in poetry as 
a symbol of fidelity ; thus Gottfried von Strasburg 
calls the Virgin Mary a turtle-dove in faithfulness. 
When it loses its mate it renounces all the plea- 
sures of life, never again perches on a green bough, 
but sits disconsolate on a dry branch, and never 
drinks clear water, but first muddies the stream 
with its feet, and drinks the foul water as evidence 
of its sorrow. 

A celebrated Spanish lyric poet and doctor of 
theology of the sixteenth century. Fray Luis Ponce 
de Leon, in his famous version of Solomon's Song, 
which caused him to be imprisoned for five years 
in the dungeons of the Inquisition, translates the 
eleventh verse of the first chapter thus : " We will 
make thee turtle-doves of gold with tips of silver." 

1 48 Animal Symbolism 

The Hebrew word tlior (necklace) meant in his 
opinion an ornament in the form of a turtle-dove, 
such as lovers were wont to present to their ladies 
in token of enduring affection, and the bridegroom 
in the Song of Songs promises his bride to give 
her one of gold, with its beak, tail, and claws 
tipped with silver. 

In architectural decoration and works of art, 
two turtle-doves are re- 
presented sitting together 
on a green bough, or a 
single one perched on a 
dead branch mourning 
its mate. The latter is a 
,p n '^/TVr'V^ X symbol of the man who 

(Psalter of Isabella. 0/ Prance.) ' 

is steadfast under tribu- 
lation, and of whom it is said, "he that endureth 
to the end shall be saved." 

The fulica or heron is wise and discreet above 
all other birds. It never touches carrion, nor does 
it fly from place to place, but abides in one spot, 
dwelling there where it finds suitable food. So the 
righteous do not care for the corrupt things of this 
world and the offal of evil-mindedness, neither do 
they wander hither and thither after false doctrines, 
but abide in the simplicity of the faith in the 
bosom of the Church, where they are nourished 
with the pure bread of life. The ousel and the 
merl, on account of the sweetness of their song, 
are typical of the grace of God, and the hoopoe of 
filial affection. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 149 

The swallow, says the Physiologus, sleeps all 
winter, and wakes to new and vigorous life in the 
spring, as it is written : " Awake, thou that sleepest, 
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee 
light." Luther, in his Latin commentary on the 
passage in Genesis (i. 20), in which it is said that 
the waters bi'ought forth the fowl that fly above 
the earth and in the open firmament of heaven, 
states, in confirmation of the aqueous origin of 
birds, that even now swallows lie dormant all 
winter in the water, and issue from it in the vernal 
season, rising into the air and thus repeating 
annually the process of creation, and proving the 
truth of Holy Writ. 

Ravens, according to the Physiologus, are hatched 
featherless, and remain callow for a long time, and 
are therefore not recognized by their parents, who 
take no care of them. In their distress they cry 
to God, who sends them manna in the form of 
dew for nourishment, as the Psalmist says : " He 
giveth food to the young ravens which cry." After 
twelve days, when the feathers begin to grow, the 
old birds recognize their offspring and feed them. 
Thus man, although made in the image of God, 
has lost all resemblance to his Creator ; but when 
he has grown through grace into the divine like- 
ness, then God recognizes him as His child, and 
nurtures him through the sacraments of the Church, 
and does not let him perish. Another character- 
istic of the raven is that, when it finds a carcass, it 
first eats the eye. The great religious truth drawn 

150 Animal Symbolism 

from this fact of natural history is that " confession 
and penance are the ravens which 
^^^^)£ P"J' °^^ the eyes of covetousness 

from the soul dead in trespasses 
and sins." In our illustration 
both of these symbolisms of the 
raven are set forth. 

Concerning the wolf, the 
,„ . , bestiaries inform us that the 

Raven. (Scsttary.) .... 

word means ravisher, and this is, 
in fact, the signification of the Sanskrit name of 
the animal, vrika, seizer. For this reason, they add, 
the term is applied to lewd women.^ A peculiarity 
of the wolf is that it cannot turn its head, because 
there is no joint in its neck, but must turn its 
whole body when it wishes to look behind, thus 
symbolizing people stiff-necked and stubborn in 
sin. The female whelps in the month of May, 
when it thunders, and at no other time. She seeks 
food by night, approaching the sheepfold noise- 
lessly and against the wind, in order that the dogs 
may not scent her ; and if she steps on a dry twig, 
so that it breaks and crackles, she bites her foot 
severely as a punishment for her carelessness. Her 
nature is such that if she is seen by a man with 
her mouth shut, then she loses the power of opening 

^ Lupa means she- wolf and prostitute, and btpcaiar, wolf's 
lair and brothel. Ovis, sheep, signifies ninny or simpleton, 
and the English word is used as a term of contempt 
Plautus in his comedies ridicules the fast young men of his 
time as sheep that cannot keep away from the wolves and 
their dens. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 151 

it, but if a man is seen by her with his mouth 
open, then he loses his voice. When she is hungry, 
she fills her stomach with clay, but when she has 
taken prey, she puts her paw into her gullet and 
vomits the clay, and sates herself with flesh. 
Albertus Magnus, who gives this account of the 
wolfs method of stilling the pangs of hunger, 
states likewise that the wolf is in the habit of 
lubricating its paws with spittle in order to render 
its footsteps inaudible.^ Brunetto Latino i-elates 
in his TJiesaurus, that the wolf often presses its 
paw to its mouth in order to falsify or magnify 
its voice, and thus frighten the shepherds by 
making them think a whole pack is coming. In 
an engraving published by Cahier {Mel. d'Arch., 
ii., pi. xxii., BM) a wolf is approaching a sheep- 
cote, and holding its paw to its mouth. It may 
be biting or lubricating its paw, 
keeping its mouth open, dis- 
gorging clay with the prospect 
of filling its maw with tender 
and succulent mutton, magnify- 
ing its voice, or practising any 
of the tricks which symbolize ^°^- (^""^^ 
the many ruses of the devil in his dealings with 

It is superfluous and would be tedious to make 
further citations from the Physiologus, since the 
specimens already given suffice to illustrate the 

1 « Vadens lupus per frondes lambit et lubrlcas facit pedes, 
ne incessus audiatur." — De Animal, xxii., Tract. II. 

152 Animal Symbolism 

character and purpose of the work. It enjoyed a 
high reputation among the early Christians, and, as 
we have seen, has been translated into a score or 
more of Oriental and Occidental languages. At 
an early period in the history of the Church it 
was condemned as heretical, and forbidden to the 
faithful by the apocryphal decree of Gelasius, but 
found not long aftei-wards a powerful patron in 
Gregory the Great, who made very free use of it 
in scriptural exposition. From the seventh to the 
twelfth century it was universally esteemed as a 
Christian compendium of natural history, and a 
popular epitome of moral and theological instruc- 
tion. During this period most of the translations 
and paraphrases of it were made, now kept as 
curiosities in old libraries, to which they have been 
transmitted as the musty heirlooms of mediaeval 
monasteries, secularized and suppressed by the 
progress of modern civilization. 

The invention of printing naturally gave the 
work a wider diffusion as a folk-book : but lone 
before the birth of Gutenberg and the age of 
movable types, it was cited by preachers and 
theologians, and used by artists for the illustration 
of sacred themes, as may be seen in illuminated 
manuscripts of the Bible, and in mediaeval missals 
and similar books of devotion. Thus, in a codex 
of the Vulgate of the seventh century, the initials 
and capitals are composed of doves, fishes, eagles, 
and other symbolical creatures ; and an Evangeli- 
arium, once the property of Charlemagne, and now 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 153 

belonging to the National Library of Paris, contains 
a miniature representing the gospel fountain in 
the form of a Byzantine baptistery, to which all 
beasts and birds are flocking for refreshment. 
The beautifully-illuminated parchment psalter of 
Isabella of France, dating from the middle of the 
fourteenth century, and already mentioned as one 
of the treasures of the Royal Library of Munich, 
has the margins adorned with drawings of animals, 
which have no direct relation to the text, but only 
a far-fetched symbological significance, inasmuch 
as they elucidate the teachings of the Physiologus, 
and represent scenes from Jewish history and 
mythology supposed to have a prefigurative 

Virtues and vices are often figured by women 
contending for victory, and bearing shields on 
which are inscribed their names or emblems, as, 
for example, the twelve virtues and twelve vices 
in the cathedral at Amiens ; sometimes they are 
riding on animals, as in the miniatures of a manu- 
script in the Mus^e de Cluny dating from the 
fourteenth century. Here Humility is mounted 
on a panther. Chastity on a unicorn ; Patience or 
Christian Resignation wears a helmet adorned with 
a swan, because this fowl sings with its dying 
breath like the martyrs ; Love bears a pelican on 
her shield ; Devotion rides an ibex, the symbol of 
aspiration and perseverance, owing to its fondness 
for high altitudes and its climbing power, and has 
a phcenix on her shield to signify the renewing 

1 54 Animal Symbolism 

virtue of fervid piety ; Pride has an eagle on her 
shield, because this bird discards those of her 
young which cannot endure the fierce light of the 
sun, as a haughty spirit despises the meek and 
lowly ; on the shield of Lust is a siren, whose sweet 
song allures men to their destruction. 

In the cloister connected with the cathedral of 
Le-Puy-en-Velay are mural paintings personifying 
Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric (the trivium), and Music. 
Logic is a female figure in a stately cathedra, and 
at her feet is Aristotle sitting on a stool and 
earnestly carrying on a discussion, and noting the 
points of his argument on his fingers. Underneath 
is the motto : " Me sine doctores frustra coluere 
sorores ; " implying that the sister arts cultivate 
dialectics in vain without the aid of the doctors 
or men of learning. Logic has a rather amused 
expression, and holds in her hands a lizard and 
a scorpion engaged in fierce combat, a parody of 
scholastic disputations and the proverbial venom of 
odium theologicum. 

In the Bibles of the tenth century the evangelists 
are pictured as men with the heads of beasts ; and 
the four gospels are summed up symbolically in 
the form of the so-called " Tetramorph," a four- 
bodied and four-headed monster composed of man, 
ox, eagle, and lion, with wings covered with eyes 
like a peacock's tail, a combination of incongruities 
surpassing in whimsicalness the famous Florentine 
bronze of the Etruscan chimera, or the marvellous 
creations of Indian and Egyptian mythology. A 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 155 

mosaic of the thirteenth century in the monastery 
of Vatopedi on Mt. Athos shows the four heads 
enveloped by six wings, and the feet of the man 
resting on two-winged wheels, as described in the 
visions of Ezekiel and of St. John the Divine. A 
tetramorph sculptured out of stone, ridden by a 

The Gospel and the Law. {Hortns Deliciarum.) 

woman with a crown on her head, and dating from 
the year 1300, adorns the south portal of the 
cathedral at Worms, and is exhibited in a plaster 
cast In the Germanic Museum at Nuremberg. It 
typifies the rapid triumph of the gospel. A mini- 
ature in the Hortus Deliciarum, formerly in the 

156 Animal Symbolism 

Strasburg Library, represents a similar monster, on 
which is seated a woman wearing a crown, bearing 
a banner, holding a goblet in her hand, and 
catching the blood from the side of the crucified 
Saviour ; another woman mounted on an ass, and 
partially blindfolded, holds in her right hand a 
knife, and in her left hand the tables of the law 
and a ram for sacrifice. They signify respectively 
the New and the Old Dispensation. Above the cross 
on the gospel side is a radiant sun, and on the 
opposite side a waning moon. The standard of 
Judaism, instead of floating in the breeze, has 
fallen to the ground ; the attitude of the ass and 
the noose at its feet are intended to illustrate the 
passage referring to the cross as "a snare, and a 
trap, and a stumbling-block" to Israel. 

On the cover of an Evangeliarium in the cathedral 
library of Trier is a plate of copper enamel en- 
graved with biblical scenes ; in the centre is the 
Crucifixion, and standing round the cross are Mary 
and John and the symbolical figures of the Church 
and the Synagogue ; above are the sun and moon 
in eclipse, indicating that " there was darkness over 
all the earth." 

The church of Saint-Nizier at Troyes has a 
stained window of the sixteenth century with a 
representation of the apocalyptic beast which rose 
out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns, as 
well as of the other beast, which came up out of 
the earth and had two horns like a lamb; the 
artist appears, however, to have been over-liberal in 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 157 

endowing the monster with eleven horns, counting 
that of the snail. 

Beasts of the Apocalypse. {Saint-Nizier of Troyes.) 

In the church of St. Nicholas at Gottingen is a 
picture dating from 1424, and symbolizing the 
origin and formation, or rather the fabrication, of 
Christian theology, God the Father appears in 
the sky with the four evangelists as man, ox, eagle, 
and lion, hovering like angels beneath Him and 
holding Him up. Each has in his hand a vessel 
from which he pours the contents of his gospel. 

158 Animal Symbolism 

indicated by a label containing the first words of it, 
into two mills turned by the twelve apostles by 
means of long bars. The several gospels, thus reduced 
to homogeneous pulp by pjissing through the mills of 
the epistles, run out into a large goblet held by a 
pope, an archbishop, a bishop, and a cardinal. It is 
designed to show that the evangelists were inspired 
by God to write the gospels, which were then 
elaborated by the apostles into doctrinal consistency 
as the expressed juice of Scripture or essence of 
theology, and that this product is in the keeping of 
the Church and to be dispensed by the sacerdotal 
order. On two labels issuing from the lower part 
of the mill are inscribed the words et thus erat vbiii 
(" and the Word was God" ) and et vbih caroftitt. c. 
(" and the Word was made flesh "). Here we have 
the crude symbolism of the divine Incarnation, as 
it is ground out of Holy Writ by apostolic theolo- 
gians and presented in potable form to believers 
by ecclesiastical dignitaries. We may add, as an 
interesting coincidence, that this conception of our 
sacred writings corresponds to that entertained by 
the Brahmans, who speak of the magical and 
supernatural virtue inherent in the Vedic hymns or 
mantras as the juice (rasa) of the metres, which is 
expressed and utilized by the ritual machinery of 
song and sacrifice. This essence is the wonder- 
working brahtna, the monopoly of which by the 
priests is the chief source of their power. 

On the capital of a column in the abbey of 
Vezelai in Burgundy is a relief representing two 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 159 

men working at a mill, one pouring corn into the 
hopper, and the other turning the crank and hold- 
ing a sack to receive the flour. St. Jerome, in his 
exposition of Matthew xxiv. 41, says the two 
women, there said to be grinding at the mill, signify 

Gospel-mill. (Aliliey of V^'^dcit in Burgundy.) 

the Synagogue and the Church ; the former brings 
the wheat of the law, and the latter separates from 
it the fine flour of the gospel, leaving only the bran 
of empty ceremonialism as the portion of Judaism. 
This forced interpretation was not original with the 
learned and ingenious anchorite, but seems to have 
been traditional in the primitive Church, and is 
frequently met with in patristic theology. 

1 60 Animal Symbolism 

The two men in the relief just mentioned are a 
Hebrew prophet and the Apostle Paul. The latter, 
who was educated as a disciple of Gamaliel and 
became the first systematic theologist of the Church 
and the real founder of dogmatic and historical 
Christianity, dwells in his epistles with peculiar 
emphasis on the relations of Judaic rites and 
ceremonies to the New Dispensation, and might 
therefore be fitly portrayed as an assiduous toiler 
at the typological mill, by which, in the words of a 
Father, the precious grain of the Old Testament 
Scriptures is ground and bolted and converted into 
the flour of gospel truth. In a mediaeval Latin 
verse descriptive of this process the apostle of the 
Gentiles is expressly mentioned — 

' ToUis, agendo molam, de flirfure Paule farinam ; 
Mosaics legis intima nota facis. 
Fit de tot granis verus sine furfure panis 
Perpetuusque cibus noster et angelicus." 

" Turning the mill, O Paul, thou takest the flour from the 
bran ; 
The hidden things of the Mosaic law thou makest known. 
Of so many grains is made true bread without bran, 
Eternal food for us and food for the angels." 

The symbolism of the mill is often delineated 
on painted windows, as, for example, in the cathe- 
dral of St. Etienne in Bourges and in Canterbury 
Cathedral. According to a description of the 
Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Denis written by the 
celebrated Abbot Suger in the twelfth century 
{de rebus administratione sua gesiis), one of the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture i6i 

stained windows contained a representation of the 
prophets pouring grain into the hopper of a mill, 
while Paul turns the crank and bags the grist. The 
same idea of the propaedeutic and prefigurative 
relation of Judaism to Christianity is expressed on 
another gorgeously-stained window in the cathedral 
of Bourges by the ark of the covenant surmounted 
by a crucifix and drawn by a man, an ox, an eagle, 
and a lion, the four beasts of the evangelists, thus 
transforming the sacred repository of the tables of 
the law into the triumphal chariot of the cross, as 
intimated in the accompanying inscription — 

" Foederis ex area cruce Christi sistitvir ara, 
Fcedere majori vult ibi Vita mori , . ." 

In a window of the church at Bron in France, 
belonging to the sixteenth century, there is a paint- 
ing of Christ seated on a globe in a four-wheeled 
chariot drawn by an angel, an ox, a lion, and an 
eagle, and attended by a pope and a cardinal at the 
fore wheels and two bishops at the hind wheels, 
pushing it along. An ivory carving of the eleventh 
century in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, shows the 
Virgin with a cross on her shoulder, a book in her 
hand, and her feet on a lion, a dragon, a crocodile, 
and wolf, and in a manuscript of the same period 
in the National Library at Paris the Virgin holds a 
palm branch and tramples on a skeleton and a 
dragon, signifying the victory of the gospel over 
death and the powers of darkness. 

It is rather strange that the cock, which is so 


1 62 Animal Symbolism 

frequently mentioned in the Scriptures, and which 
plays so important and honourable a part as the 
monitor and reprover of the cowardly and recreant 
Peter, should be entirely passed over by the Phy- 
siologus and the bestiaries. On ancient pagan and 
early Christian sarcophagi two fighting-cocks are 
often sculptured, one of which has already suc- 
cumbed to the onsets of its adversary, and were 
probably intended to represent the battle of life. 
The cock typifies both vigilance and liberality, 
because it is always on the 
watch, and when it finds 
anything, it does not eat 
it, but calls the hens to- 
gether and divides it among 
them. In like manner the 
Cock calling hens. preacher should distribute 

{Psalter of Isabella of France.) * ^ • n ^ t t 

among his flock the kernels 
of divine truth which he discovers in Holy Writ, 
picking them into pieces in order that they may be 
more readily taken in and digested, as a mediaeval 
poet declares — 

" Gallus granum reperit, convocat uxores 
Et illud distribuit inter cariores. 
Tales discant clerici pietatis mores, 
Dando suis subditis scriptuarum flores ; 
Sic sua distribuere cunctis derelictis, 
Atque curam gerere nudis stafflictis." 

It might be added that the preacher should not 
be a weather-cock, blown about by eveiy wind of 
doctrine. In the Mus^e de Cluny is a manuscript 
of roundelays addressed to Louise of Savoy, 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 163 

Countess of Angouleme and mother of Francis I. 
of France, with illustra- 
tions of the seven Virtues 
subduing their opposite 
Vices; among them is 
Liberality mounted on a 
cock pouring gold coins 
out of a vessel with one 
hand and holding a large 
platter or salver in the 
other ; at her feet is Avar- 
ice bestriding an ape. 

The cockatrice or basi- 
lisk, on the other hand, 
holds a prominent place 
in mediaeval symbology 
and ecclesiastical archi- 
tecture. This little king 
(/SacrtXtcTKos) of reptiles, so 
called because the wart 
on its head resembles a crown, had the reputation 
of being a terror to all its subjects, the most vene- 
mous serpents fleeing affrighted when they hear its 
hiss. It is hatched from the egg laid by a cock in the 
seventh year of its age, and it happens in this wise. 
When the egg has grown large, it produces an 
intense griping in the bowels of the cock, which 
seeks a warm place in a stable or on a dung-heap, 
and there lays the egg. A serpent or toad then 
comes and sits on it, and hatches a creature with 
the head of a cock and the body of a reptile. No 

Liberality and Avarice. 
{Manjescn^i in Musie de Clnny^ 

1 64 Animal Symbolism 

sooner is it born than it hides itself in a crevice or 
cistern, or in the rafters of a house, so as not to be 
seen by any one ; for such is its nature that if a man 
sees it before it sees him, it will die, but if it sees 
him first, he will fall down dead. It has also the 
power of darting poison from its eyes, so deadly 
that it kills birds flying over the spot where it lies 
hidden ; even herbs and shrubs, which it touches 
in passing, wither away. This baneful reptile is 
beautiful in form and colour, having a skin of 
variegated hues spotted with white ; but, adds the 
author in a moralizing strain, beauty is often asso- 
ciated with badness. Whoever wishes to slay the 
basilisk, holds before his face a vessel of crystal 
through which he looks at the beast; and the 
crystal not only arrests the venom issuing from its 
eyes, but even causes it to be reflected and hurled 
back upon the animal, which is killed by the fatal 

The basilisk signifies the devil, who entered into 
Paradise and enticed our first parents to eat of the 
forbidden fruit. For this transgression they were 
driven forth from Eden, and when they had passed 
away from the earth, which they had corrupted, 
they were cast into the burning pit with the basilisk. 
Then the merciful Son of the King of Heaven took 
pity on the many people poisoned by this old ser- 
pent, which no one had been able to destroy ; and 
He chose a vessel clearer than crystal, the blessed 
body of our Lady, the purest of virgins, in which to 
encounter the direful foe. And when the basilisk 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 165 

darted the venom from its eyes, the vessel caught it 
and threw it back upon the reptile, which languished 
during the thirty years of Christ's incarnation, until 
the victory was fully won by the crucifixion. And 
after He had been placed in the tomb, He rose 
again on the third day and descended into the pit, 
where the basilisk had concealed itself, and rescued 
all those who had been infected with its poison 
from the time of Adam, and restored them to 
everlasting life. 

Fighting the Basilisk. [^Alhey of Vizelau) 

Jacopo da Lentino in his erotics makes the fable 
illustrate the perils of love ; and a Provencal poet, 
Aimeric de Pregulhan, compares himself to a 
basilisk and his mistress to a mirror, which he 
cannot look upon without being smitten to death. 

The basilisk figures frequently in illustrations of 
devotional works and in sacred architecture, as, for 

1 66 Animal Symbolism 

example, on the capital of a column in the church 
of the Abbey of Vezelai, where a man approaches 
the hissing reptile, holding a conical vessel eis a 
shield before his face; near him is an enormous 
locust with a human head. This sculpture symbol- 
izes the redemption of the Gentile world from the 
thralls of Satan by the atonement of Christ. Beda, 
in his commentary on the thirtieth chapter of Pro- 
verbs, says : " Locusts refer to the nations formerly 
without Christ for their king, without prophets, 
without teachers; but now gathered together in 
the unity of the faith, they hasten to the spiritual 
combat against the devil." This is a spiritualiza- 
tion of the passage : " The locusts have no king, 
yet they go forth all of them in bands " (xxx. 27), 
or, as it reads in the Vulgate : " Regem locusta non 
habet, et egreditur universa per suas turmas," a 
rendering which facilitates the symbolical inter- 
pretation given by the venerable Anglo-Saxon 

Gregory the Great, in his exposition of Job 
{Moralia, sive Expositiones in Jobum), states, in 
explanation of the verse "Canst thou make him 
afraid as a grasshopper ?" that grasshopper or locust 
signifies converted paganism ("conversagentilitas"). 
This, he adds, is what Solomon means when he 
says, "The almond tree shall flourish, the locust 
shall grow fat, and the caper bush shall waste 
away."i " Now the almond flowers before all other 

' This is the Vulgate version of Eccl. xii. 5 : " Florebit 
amygdalus, impinguabitur locusta, dissipabitur capparis." 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 167 

trees ; and what is meant by the flowering almond, 
unless it be the beginning of the holy Church, which 
put forth in its preachers the first blossoms of virtue 
and bore the earliest fruits of holiness? 'The locust 
shall grow fat ' signifies that the unction and rich- 
ness of heavenly grace shall be infused into the 
leanness and barrenness of heathenism. 'The caper 
bush shall waste away,' because, when the Gentiles 
are called and attain the gift of faith, the Jews shall 
be left desolate, and shall remain sterile." In this 
connection Gregory quotes the passage from Pro- 
verbs (xxx. 27), already mentioned, and interprets 
it as referring to the Gentiles, who, when they were 
left to themselves, were alien to the Divine law, 
but, when they were gathered and arrayed together, 
went forward to fight the fight of faith against 
spiritual adversaries. 

The locust with a human head signifies the Gen- 
tile nations united under Christ as their head to 
war against Satan. "The basilisk is the king of 
serpents," says Gregory, " but who is the head of 
the reprobates, unless it be Antichrist .'' " Essen- 
tially the same exegesis is given by St. Hilarius in 
his commentary on Matthew iii. 4, where locusts 
are mentioned as the principal articles of food of 
John the Baptist, the forerunner of Him who was 
to gather in the Gentiles, and also by St Am- 
brosius in his remarks on the third chapter of 
Luke, so that Gregory cannot claim to be the 
originator of this brilliant feat of hermeneutics. 
Odo, the second Abbot of Cluny, in the fourth 

1 68 Animal Symbolism 

decade of the tenth century, abridged the Moralia 
of Gregory, and it was probably to this work that 
the sculpture in the church at V6zelai owes its 
origin, since V^zelai stood for a long time in inti- 
mate relations to Cluny, and, indeed, seems at this 
time to have been to some extent under the juris- 
diction of the rich and powerful Benedictine abbey 
on the Grdne. 

Another capital in the abbey of V^zelai repre- 
sents in relief a man in a Phrygian cap mounted 
on a basilisk and holding a round missile in his 

Sphinx and Basilisk. i^Ahhey of Vizelai.) 

right hand. His arm is drawn back as if in the 
act of hurling this weapon at a sphinx-like crea- 
ture, that has the head of a woman and the feet of 
an ox, and wards off the attack by means of a 
crystal vessel, as already described. The basilisk 
begins to show signs of succumbing to the retro- 
flex action of its own venom. The sphinx, if we 
may regard the cloven-hoofed monster as such, 
wears a crown, and is partially clad in armour, and 
is probably a symbol of spiritual knowledge and 
strength overcoming evil. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 169 

Albertus Magnus, the most circumspect and 
critical of mediaeval scholars touching the marvel- 
lous tales which constituted the natural history of his 
day, remarks : " What is related about an old cock 
('decrepitum gallum') laying an egg, and putting it 
in the dung, and about a basilisk being hatched 
out of it, and looking like a cock in all respects 
except that it has the long tail of a serpent, I do 
not think is true; yet it is reported as a fact by 
Hermes, and is accepted by many persons" {De 
Animal., xxiii.). 

In the same treatise (xxv.) he adds : " It is said 
that the weasel kills the basilisk, and that the 
troglodytes of Nubia send weasels into their caves 
for this purpose before entering these habitations 
themselves. And if this be true, it seems indeed 
wonderful. . . . Hermes also asserts that if silver 
be rubbed with its ashes, it receives the splendour, 
weight, and solidity of gold. Some aver, further- 
more, that there is a sort of basilisk that flies, but I 
have not read of this kind in the books of sages 
and philosophers." 

Evidently the basilisk was a riddle to the great 
Dominican, Aristotelian, and Doctor Universalis, 
of which he could find no satisfactory solution — a 
creature which excited his wonder, and made ex- 
cessive demands on his credulity, but which he 
could not dismiss as a mere figment of superstitious 
fancy, owing to the weight of testimony in its 
favour, and especially . on account of the deference 
due to the almost supernatural and semi-divine 

1 70 Animal Symbolism 

authority of Hermes Trismegistus. The mythical 
cock's egg, however, continued during the middle 
ages, and even into modern times, to furnish the 
principal ingredient for the fabrication of witches' 
ointment, the devil's chrism, with which he an- 
ointed his elect, and thereby enabled old hags to 
transform themselves into beasts, ride through the 
air on broomsticks, and work divers kinds of 
fiendish mischief. How this belief compromised 
our innocent but ostentatious knight of the barn- 
yard, and led to his criminal prosecution and 
punishment as a satellite of Satan and phar- 
maceutical purveyor to his infernal majesty, has 
been shown by the author in a work entitled T/ie 
Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of 

Modern science, which, in its mission of abolish- 
ing mysteries, has relegated so many ancient fables 
and venerable traditions to that 

" limbo large and broad, since called 
The paradise of fools," 

and which tends more and more to circumscribe 
and gradually eliminate the sphere of the miracu- 
lous in nature, has now stripped the dread basilisk 
of its fatal qualities. The sole residuum which 
sober research has left us is a harmless species 
of hooded lizard, whose only peculiarity is the 
power of blowing up its conical crest with wind. 
The cockatrice, with its "death-darting" eye, has 
been curtailed of its formidable proportions and 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 171 

degraded to a funny little saurian, which might 
serve to amuse children, but has lost all the terrors 
with which mythical zoology once invested it even 
in the minds of the most intelligent men and 
greatest thinkers of their day. The transformation, 
too, which scholarly opinion and popular belief 
have undergone on this point is typical of the 
functions and efficiency of science in subverting 

Besides its value as a key to zo5logical sym- 
bolism as expressed in art and literature, and 
especially in hermeneutical theology and ecclesias- 
tical architecture, the Physiologus is psychologically 
interesting as an index to the intellectual condition 
of an age which could accept its absurd statements 
as scientific facts, and seriously apply them to 
biblical exegesis and Christian dogmatics. 

In addition to the Scriptural expositions already 
cited, the following may serve as specimens of the 
wretched twaddle which men now revered as the 
lights of the Church, and quoted as infallible au- 
thorities in questions of divinity, were capable of 
uttering. " David said : ' As the hart panteth after 
the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O 
God.' The Physiologus tells us that the hart is 
the foe of the dragon, which, when it sees its 
enemy, runs away and creeps into a cleft of the 
rocks. Then the hart goes to a stream and fills 
his belly with water, and spews it into the cleft, 
and, having thus drowned out the dragon, tramples 
it under his feet and kills it ; as the prophet Isaiah 

1 72 Animal Symbolism 

predicts that at the coming of Christ a man shall 
'go into the clefts of the 
rocks, and into the tops of 
the ragged rocks, for fear of 
the Lord.' Thus our Saviour 
slew with the water and blood 
flowing from His side the 
great dragon that was once a 
Hart and D.agonr(5«/:«^.) partaker of Divine wisdom 
in heaven, and redeemed 
us thereby, and taught us to contend against the 
hidden designs of the devil. Hearken then to the 
voice within thee, which bids thee not to commit 
whoredom, nor to steal, nor to go after another 
man's wife; but, when thou hast drunken of the 
water of the New Law, kill all idle words and vain 
works. The hart loves to dwell in hilly regions; 
hills are types of the contemplative life of prophets 
and saints, and the sources of spiritual strength ; as 
the Psalmist says : ' I will lift up mine eyes unto 
the hills, from whence cometh my help.' " Accord- 
ing to the exegetist the hart longs for water not 
in order to quench thirst, but for the purpose of 
expelling dragons from their holes. Others assert 
that the hart, in killing the dragon, inhales its 
poisonous breath, which produces intense thirst and 
consequent longing for the water-brooks. Either 
interpretation shows the tendency of the expositor 
to seek extravagant and far-fetched explanations 
of the simplest texts, thus violating one of the 
most elementary principles of scientific investigation. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 173 

The hart was also fabled to renew its antlers 
and become rejuvenated by eating serpents and 
drinking from a pure spring, and this characteristic 
is used by ^milius Dracontius in his poem De 
Deo to symbolize the regeneration of the human 
soul and its purification from evil by the waters of 
salvation. Representations of the hostility of the 
hart to the dragon occur occasionally in ecclesias- 
tical architecture, but very frequently in illustrated 
bestiaries, breviaries, psalters, and other devotional 

Again, we are informed that " the antelope is a 
wild animal with two power- 
ful horns, with which it saws 
trees asunder and fells them. 
When it is thirsty it goes 
down to the Euphrates to 
drink. Growing on the banks 
of this river are certain 
shrubs of pleasant savour, 
which the antelope attempts Ameiope. (SesUary.-) 
to eat, and thereby gets its horns entangled in 
the branches, so that it cannot free itself again. 
Then it cries out with a loud voice, and the hunters 
hearing it hasten to take it, or it is killed by beasts 
of prey. The two horns are the Books of the Old 
and New Testaments, with which the believer can 
resist the adversary and push him to the ground, 
and can cut down all growing sins and vices ; but 
he who allows himself to be drawn aside from the 
waters of salvation by the pleasures of the world. 

174 Animal Symbolism 

and gets entangled in the thickets of lust and pride 
and evil passions, falls an easy prey to the devil." 
The author then quotes as a passage from Holy 
Writ the words "Wine and women separate a 
man from God," evidently an inference from the 
admonitions contained in Prov. xxxi. 3-5. 

The fiction of the antelope is alluded to by 
minnesingers in illustration of the fate of malicious 
and meddlesome courtiers, who are finally taken 
and destroyed in the web of their own devices. A 
Venetian marble relief of the tenth century, now 
in the Berlin Museum, represents a lion attacking 
an antelope ; it symbolizes Satan assaulting the 
soul, and is based upon the fable of the Physiologus. 

Antelope on the Euphrates. (Psalter of Isabella of France.') 

The mishap of the antelope was a favourite 
theme of mediaeval artists, who usually gave only the 
final scene, in which the entangled beast is killed ; 
in the engraving, taken from the illuminated 
psalter of Isabella of France, the whole story is 
told. It is also one of the beasts on the arch of 
the doorway at Alne. 

In the bestiaries barnacle geese are described as 
growing on trees by the sea-side, and hanging from 
the boughs by their beaks until they are covered 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 175 

Barnacle Geese. {Bestiary.) 

with feathers and fall like ripe fruit. If they reach 
the water they swim and 
live, but if they remain 
on the dry ground they 
perish. They illustrate 
the saving efficacy of bap- 
tism. Gerard of Wales 1 
cites this legend as a 
fact designed to prove 
the doctrine of the Im- 
maculate Conception, as 
these birds are born with- 
out procreation. 

It must be remembered that the men who wrote 
such hermeneutical stuff as this, and took such 
childish tales seriously as the testimony of nature 
to the truth of revelation, were not obscure and 
ignorant persons, but the most learned divines and 
eminent representatives of the early Church, the 
creators of patristic theology, the great exegetists 
and eloquent apologists, who were deemed worthy 
of canonization and adoration as saints. But what 
preacher of to-day, if we except perhaps an 
American backwoods evangelist, or illiterate Capu- 
chin discoursing to rude peasants in the remote 
districts of Southern Italy, would risk his reputa- 
tion for sanity by expatiating from the pulpit or 
expounding the Bible in this style.' And yet it 
was by this credulous and utterly uncritical class 

1 Gerald. Top. Hibem. v. 47. Cf. Jacobs: The Jews of 
Angeviy, England, p. 54. 

1 76 Animal Symbolism 

of minds that the foundations of historical and 
dogmatic Christianity were laid, and the constitu- 
tion and canonicity of our sacred Scriptures deter- 
mined. It was they who framed the accepted 
creed of Christendom, and settled ex cathedrd what 
doctrines were to be received as orthodox, and 
what opinions were to be rejected as heretical. 
Persons more incompetent to decide any of the 
difficult and delicate questions thus submitted to 
their judgment can hardly be imagined. Their 
belief in any event was in direct proportion to its 
marvellousness and incredibility, and the highest 
law of evidence which they recognized and applied 
as the test of divine truth was Tertullian's famous 
criterion : " Credo quia absurdum." The queer 
and often comical irrelevancy of their citations of 
biblical texts to the matter under discussion betrays 
their lack of logical faculty, and their incapacity 
for close and consecutive thinking. They do not 
show the slightest ability to sift testimony and to 
separate the true from the false in any statement ; 
on the principle of omne mirabile pro probabili they 
were ready to accept as indubitable whatever was 
sufficiently wonderful, and to regard as conclusive 
demonstration a petitio principii which a modern 
school-boy of ordinary acumen would easily detect. 
It is evident that minds so implicitly credulous 
could have had r^o proper appreciation of the prob- 
lems which the rise and growth of Christianity 
during the early period of its dogmatic evolution 
presented for solution, nor is it hardly possible that 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 177 

they should not have been deceived in any in- 
vestigations they undertook, or in any conclusions 
they reached concerning the authenticity of the 
events recorded in the gospels and other scriptures 
of the New Testament, and the genuineness of these 
records. Under such circumstances it is not sur- 
prising that our sacred canon should begin with 
an astrological legend related as an historical fact 
in connection with the birth of Jesus, and end with 
a wild and weird apocalyptic vision, giving an 
autoptic description of the Last Judgment and the 
glories of the heavenly Jerusalem. In the same 
mental category to-day are the men and women 
who receive the Book of Mormon as a revelation 
from on high, who believe in the immaculate con- 
ception of Anna Lee, and accept George Jacob 
Schweinfurth as the incarnation of the Son of God, 
who listen to the sounds produced by the voluntary 
dislocation of the toe-joints of two tricksy girls 
as rappings from the spirit-world, and who put 
their faith in the healing waters of the grotto of 
Lourdes and the panacea of " Christian science " 
as expounded by Mrs. Eddy. 




Excess of animal symbolism in sacred edifices of the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries — Earnest but fruitless 
protest of St. Bernard — Image-worship authorized and en- 
joined by the Council held at Nice in 787 — Images not to 
be inventions of artists, but to be fashioned according to 
ecclesiastical traditions and ecclesiological prescriptions — 
Views of St. Nilus — Paintings and sculptures for the 
instruction of the ignorant — Gautier de Coinsi renews the 
protest against "wild cats and lions" in the house of 
God — Angelus Rumpler makes the same complaint — 
Warnings by the Councils of Milan and Bordeaux — In- 
troductions of episodes from the beast-epos with satirical 
tendencies — Secular guilds supplant religious orders as 
architects — Caricature of sacred rites — Fox preaching 
to geese in St. Martin's Church in Leicester — Sculptures 
in Strasburg Minster — Reliefs of the wolfs novitiate in 
Freiburg Minster — Poem by Marie de France — Sam- 
son and the lion — Provosfs cushion in St. Michael's 
at Pforzheim — Burlesc[ue of Calvin in St. Semin at 
Toulouse — Luther satirized in St. Victor's Church at 
Xanten — Foolscap paper — Origin and character of the 
Papstesel — Monstrosities as portents — Bishop-fish — The 
Papal Ass in religious polemics — The Monk-calf of 
Freiburg and its interpretation — Miniatures illustrating 
the " Woes of France " — The fox of the Physiologus and 
of the beast-epos — Reliefs of the wiles of the fox and the 
woes of drunkenness in St. Fiacre — Execution of the cat 
in the cathedral at Tarragona — Significance of the crane 
extracting a bone from the fox's throat in Autun Cathe- 
dral — Burrowing foxes types of devils in Worcester 

Animal Symbolism 179 

Cathedral — Scenes from the Reynardine and other poems 
in the church of the Templars, St. Denis, Amiens Cathe- 
dral, Sherborne Minster, and other sacred edifices, but 
most fully represented in Bristol Cathedral and Beverly 
Minster — Heraldic rebuses and canting devices — Satire 
on the election of a pope in Lincoln Cathedral — Mendi- 
cant friars caricatured as foxes in Ely, Gloucester, 
Winchester, and other cathedrals — Odo of Sherington's 
opinion of these orders — Similar delineations in the 
churches and cloisters of continental Europe : Kempen, 
Emmerick, Calcar, and Cleves — The Lay of Aristotle 
and Vergil's affair of gallantry — The Vision of Piers 
Plowman — Animals as musicians — Grotesques, bur- 
lesques, and riddles — Funeral banquet at the burial of the 
fox at Marienhafen — The frog as a symbol of regenera- 
tion — Carvings of individual fancies and conceits and 
illustrations of proverbs — Episodes from the Roman de 
Renart — Many of these sculptures, especially in Northern 
France and the Netherlands, destroyed by iconoclasts 
and revolutionists. 

It was in the eleventh and especially in the twelfth 
century that sypibolical animals played a most 
conspicuous and very peculiar part in the ornamen- 
tation of church furniture and in ecclesiastical 
architecture. Lamps, censers, pyxes, aspergills, 
chrismatories, reliquaries, and sacramental vessels 
were wrought in the form of griffins, ostriches, 
pelicans, cranes, dolphins, doves, dragons, lions, or 
some other real or fabulous creature, or had these 
animals carved on them. It was deemed a hard 
hit at the devil, and a masterly stroke of pious policy, 
to press beasts of evil omen and Satanic significance 
into the service of the Church, and force them to 
assist at the celebration of holy offices. They were 
therefore embroidered on sacerdotal vestments and 
sculptured in the chancel and the chapels and 

i8o Animal Symbolism 

around the altars of the sanctuary, where religious 
rites were usually performed. Later, towards the 
close of the twelfth century, they began to take 
possession of the windows, portals, arches, and 
pinnacles, and finally extended to the whole exterior 
of the edifice, no part of which was safe from their 
encroachments. It was especially in cloisters that 
these beasts ran riot, but not without provoking the 
indignation and opposition of many ecclesiastics. 

One of the earliest of these protests was that of 
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who about the year 1125 
wrote a letter on the subject to William, Abbot of 
St. Thierry, sharply censuring what he regarded as 
a profanation of sacred places. " What business," 
he exclaims, "have those ridiculous monstrosities, 
those creatures of wonderfully deformed beauty 
and beautiful deformity, before the eyes of studious 
friars in the courts of cloisters ? What mean those 
filthy apes, those fierce lions, those monstrous 
centaurs, those half-men, those spotted tigers, those 
fighting soldiers and horn-blowing hunters ? Thou 
seest many bodies under one head, and again many 
heads on one body. Here is a serpent's tail at- 
tached to a quadruped, there a quadruped's head 
on a fish. There a beast presents the fore-parts of 
a horse and drags after it the rear of a goat ; here 
a horned animal has the hind parts of a horse. In 
short, there is seen everywhere such a marvellous 
diversity of forms, that one reads with more 
pleasure what is carved in stones than what is 
written in books, and would rather gaze all day 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture i8i 

upon these singular creations than to meditate on 
the divine word. O God ! if one is not ashamed of 
these puerilities, why does one not at least spare 
the expense ? " 

That the famous " doctor mellifluus " should have 
been ignorant of the meaning of the artistic repre- 
sentations he condemns is scarcely credible ; natur- 
ally enough, however, the coarse symbolism which 
they sought to express could hardly fail of being 
offensive to the refined and subtile mysticism of the 
saintly Cistercian, who rejected the dogma of the 
Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary as a too 
gross and sensual suggestion and emblematic ex- 
pression of her spiritual purity. He was indignant 
that the Christian mysteries should be degraded 
and vulgarized by being clothed in what he deemed 
the foul and tattered vesture of pagan allegory. 
This attitude was perfectly consistent with his 
character as a reformer of the Church, and especially 
of the cloisters, and a zealous promoter of stricter 
monastic discipline. As ecclesiastical architecture 
was at that time still in the hands of the religious 
orders and the secular clergy, he held them re- 
sponsible for these exhibitions, which he regarded 
as an evidence of their frivolity and dissoluteness. 

Suger, the celebrated abbot of St. Denis and 
minister of state of Louis VII., was less fastidious 
and austere than St. Bernard, and in rebuilding 
the famous Benedictine abbey in 1144 did not 
hesitate to have the stained windows adorned 
with symbolical animals, which he appears to 

1 82 Animal Symbolism 

have prized both as decorations and sources of 

The seventh CEcumenical Council, which was 
held at Nice in 787, and which authorized icon- 
olatry and enjoined this cult as a religious duty 
upon believers, decided that the images were not 
to be the invention of the artist, but were to be 
fashioned according to the traditions and prescrip- 
tions of the Catholic Church. The artist was not 
permitted to follow his own fancies or to work 
out his own devices, but his sole function was to 
execute the intentions and embody the ideas and 
suggestions of the official ecclesiologists as derived 
from the writings of the Fathers : " Non est imagi- 
' num structura pictorum inventio, sed ecclesiae catho- 
licae probata legislatio atque traditio." In the fifth 
century St. Nilus wrote to Olympiodorus : " You 
ask me whether it is proper to burden the walls 
of the sanctuary with representations of divers 
animals, hares, goats, and other beasts seeking 
safety in flight from the snares which cover the 
ground, and from the hunters, who with their 
dogs are eagerly pursuing them. Elsewhere, on 
the shore, we see all sorts of fish gathered by 
fishermen. I reply that it is puerile to amuse the 
eyes of the faithful in this manner." ^ 

Evidently the censorious saint did not take the 
symbolical significance of such pictures into con- 
sideration, but looked upon them as purely orna- 

^ Maxima Bibliotheca Paintm, xxvil 325. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 183 

mental and designed to please the eye. As a 
matter of fact, there was a large class of persons 
in the early and mediaeval Church who relied upon 
such paintings and sculptures for their religious 
instruction and edification, like the old woman into 
whose mouth Fran§ois Villon puts these words — 

" Femme je suis, pauverette et ancienne, 
Qui riens ne sgay, onques lettres ne leuz, 
Au moustier voy, dont je suis paroissienne, 
Paradis painct ovi sont harpes et luz 
Et un enfer ou dampnds sont bouUuz, 
Lung me fait pour, I'autre joye et liesse." 

Symbolical representations of beasts and other 
delineations of this kind, however grotesque, are 
the records of human thoughts and beliefs in 
certain stages of civilization, and deserve to be 
deciphered with as much care as Runic signs or 
hieroglyphic and cuneiform inscriptions. 

A hundred years after St. Bernard, Gautier de 
Coinsi, Prior of Vie sur Aisne, found it necessary 
again to censure the clergy for permitting "wild 
cats and lions" to rank with saints in the house 
of God, and for preferring to adorn their chambers 
with the lewd exploits of Isegrim and his spouse 
rather than to decorate the minsters with the 
miracles of the Virgin — 

" En leur moustiers ne font pas faire 
Sitost I'image Nostre Dame, 
Com font Isangrin et sa fame 
En leurs chambres ovi ils reponnent." 

Again, in the beginning of the sixteenth century 
the pious abbot of Formbach, Angelus Rumpler, 

184 Animal Symbolism 

renewed St. Bernard's quefy as to the purpose and 
fitness of putting lions, dragons, and the like in 
the churches, which ought, he says, to be simply 
and suitably adorned, and not so conspicuously as 
to furnish occasion for gazing instead of praying. 
" Not that I censure proper ornament," he adds, 
" but only what is fantastical and superfluous. For 
pictures are the books of the laity or unlearned ; 
but by pictures I mean such as portray the 
Passion of Christ and the sufferings of the saints." 
He wishes to have representations that will incite 
to devotion, and not merely gratify curiosity or 
engender evil propensities. What he expressly 
reprehends are scenes which a young girl cannot 
look at without having her mind corrupted and 
lascivious desires excited in her heart; and the 
manner in which he refers to them proves that 
they must have existed in places of worship. 
What we should expend for the relief of the poor, 
he concludes, we squander on sumptuous and 
needless edifices ; but enough of this : sed de hac 
re hactenus. 

The first Council of Milan in 1565 warned the 
bishops not to permit in the churches any paint- 
ings or sculptures opposed to the truth of Scripture, 
or of tradition or ecclesiastical history : " Caveant 
episcopi, ne quid pingatur aut sculpatur, quod 
veritati scriptuarum, traditionum aut ecclesiasti- 
carum historiarum adversetur." Twenty years later 
(1585) the Council of Bordeaux forbade preachers 
to introduce fables into their sermons, and thus 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 185 

move their hearers to laughter, instead of drawing 
tears of contrition from their eyes, as they ought 
to do : " Concionatoris enim est, non risum movere, 
sed lacrymas auditoribus excutere." 

The symbolical meaning which Clemens Alexan- 
drinus, Augustine, Origen, Chrysostom, Epiphanips,. 
Jerome, Bonaventura, Ambrosius, Isidorus, and 
other great interpreters of Holy Writ had dis- 
covered in these real or fabulous creatures was 
now forgotten or discarded. The gross and beastly 
types had been superseded by the finer mysticism 
of expositors like the abbot .of Clairvaux, whose 
aesthetic sense as well as religious feeling was deepl}- 
offended by these crude and whimsical illustrations 
of spiritual truths. 

Meanwhile other fables, derived partly from 
hagiological sources and partly from old Germanic 
sagas and the marvels related of foreign lands by 
mediseval travellers, had become gradually mixed 
up with the Physiologus, and under its shelter and 
sanction as a precedent succeeded in creeping into 
holy places. Scenes from the beast-epos, espe- 
cially the adventures of the fox and the wolf, 
carved on wood, cut in stone, painted in fresco, 
or more frequently pictured in glass, began to 
make themselves conspicuous on the stalls of the 
chancel, and on the pulpits and portals and stained 
windows of cathedrals. At first they were de- 
signed to enforce moral precepts and to illustrate 
ethical principles, but in seeking these ends they 
found it necessary to satirize the vices of the clergy^ 

1 86 Animal Symbolism 

and to censure with deserved severity the greed 
and gluttony and general dissoluteness of the 
monastic orders. 

During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries 
the religious fraternities were in a great degree 
supplanted as builders by associations of secular 
architects, and, as the influence of the laity became 
predominant in church ornamentation, and the 
spirit which resulted in the Reformation grew 
bolder and more aggressive, this satirical tendency 
increased, and did not confine itself to the expo- 
sure of religious hypocrisy and pseudo-sanctity, 
but soon delighted in ridiculing and caricaturing 
sacramental rites and sacred observances. Apes 
in choristers' robes, swine in monks' hoods, asses 
in cowls chanting and playing the organ, sirens in 
the costume of nuns with their faces carefully 
veiled and the rest of their persons exposed, stags 
in chasubles ministering at the altar, and wolves 
in the confessional giving absolution to lambs, 
were some of the means employed to burlesque 
the principal ceremonies and fundamental institu- 
tions of the Church, and to turn them into ridicule. 
On one of the painted windows of St. Martin's 
Church, in Leicester, was the picture of a fox in 
surplice preaching to a flock of geese from the 
text: "Testis est mihi Deus quam cupiam vos 
omnes visceribus meis " (" God is my witness how 
I long for you all in my bowels "). One of the 
wood-carvings in Ely Cathedral represents the fox 
arrayed in episcopal robes, with almuce and stole 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 187 

and crosier, discoursing to a similar audience from 
the same passage of Scripture ; in the next scene 
he has made a practical application of the text by 
throwing off his holy vestments and hurrying away 
with a goose, pursued by an old woman with a 
distaff.i Here we have not merely an exposure of 
the begging friars, but a hard hit at the highest 
dignitaries of the Church. 

The obscenity of many of these delineations 
resulted naturally and inevitably from the fact 
that they satirized obscene things. Thus the 
abbot Grandidier, in describing the grotesque 
figures sculptured on the pulpit staircase in Stras- 
burg Minster, says : " On y remarquait entr' autres 
celle d'un moine couch6 au dessous et aux pieds 
d'une b^guine, dont il soulevait les juppes." This 
pulpit was constructed in i486 under the super- 
vision of the famous preacher, Johannes Geiler 
von Kaisersberg, in whose sermons the licentious- 
ness of the monks and particularly the unchastity 
of the vagabond bdguines were severely scourged. 
Indeed, bdguinage came to be synonymous with 
spurious piety or lust in the disguise of sanctity. 
But however coarsely such scenes may have been 
depicted, they originated in a high moral purpose, 
and had a pure aim, which, as the old plattdeutsck 
poet Lauremberg, in his Schertzgedichte, says of 
the hidden wisdom in Reincke Vos, shone forth 
like a glowing coal in the ashes, or a gold penny in 
a greasy pocket — 

' Herrig's Archiv, Iviii. 255. 

i88 Animal Symbolism 

" Glyck als dat Fiihr schulet in der Asche, 
Un giildne Penninge in eener schmierigen Tasche." 

With the progress of the Reformation these 
representations were drawn into the great religious 
movement and put to polemical uses, and proved 
to be more effective in influencing the mass of 
public opinion than any doctrinal discussion. Thus 
Fischart published woodcuts of the sculptures near 
the choir of Strasburg Minster with explanatory 
doggerels, in which he interpreted them as an 
allegorical derision of the Romish clergy ; and this 
view seems to have been accepted by the Catholics 
themselves, although a zealous Protestant, Oscar 
Schad, in his description of the cathedral, printed 
in 1617, vents his indignation against the Fran- 
ciscan, Friedrich Johann Nass, who, he says, " had 
the effrontery to thrust his nose into this matter, 
beslavering with his venom the sound expositions 
of Fischart, and absurdly affirming these beasts to 
be types of pious and faithful evangelical preachers 
and godly servants of the Word." As these sculp- 
tures date from the end of the thirteenth century, 
and are therefore much older than Protestantism, 
which dates from the Diet held by the evangelical 
estates at Spire, in 1529, the interpretation of them 
given by Nass is grossly anachronistic. Besides, 
they caricature, not a Protestant, but a Catholic 
rite, namely, the burial of the fox, as prescribed by 
the Romish ceremonial. First comes the bear 
with an aspergill and a vessel of holy water ; the 
wolf carries a crucifix, and the hare holds a burning 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 189 

taper; the bier, on which lies the fox simulating 
death and plotting revenge, is borne by a sow and 
a he-goat. An ape is seated on the ground near 
the bier, apparently as spectator. A stag is chant- 
ing the office at an altar, while a cat serves as 
lectern to support the epistles, which are read by 
an ass. At the feet of the bear is a globe with a 

Burial of the Fox. (CJioir of Strasiurg Minster.) 

cross on it forming a reichsapfel or tut, and indi- 
cating, perhaps, that the officiating priests are Car- 
thusians, since the tut was the badge of their order 
(Herrig's Arckiv, Ixvi. 269-70). It is possible, how- 
ever, that the cross is intended to indicate a grave 
in the cemetery, to which the fox is being borne. 

The fact that the chapter of the cathedral caused 
these sculptures to be chiseled off in 1685 is a con- 
fession that they were thought to be directed, or 
might, at least, be easily turned, against the papal 
hierarchy. Also a Lutheran bookseller, who kept 
woodcuts of them on sale, was condemned to stand 
in his shirt and do penance for his offence in front 
of the minster, and was then banished from the city. 

Again, in Freiburg Minster (Breisgau), in a nar- 
row passage leading from the south transept to 
the choir, are reliefs belonging to the first half of 

1 90 Animal Symbolism 

the twelfth century, and representing the wolfs 
novitiate. The lupine candidate for a cloistral life 
or for the clerical office is learning his letters from 
a monk, who is seated on a faldstool with a peda- 
gogue's baton consisting of a bundle of rods in his 
hand. The dull pupil, who holds a pointer awk- 
wardly in his right paw, has already reached the 
third letter of the alphabet in his pursuit of know- 
ledge, when the longing for lamb gets the better of 
his love of learning, and he seizes a sheep of the 

Novitiate of the Wolf. {^Freibiirg Minster.) 

pastoral flock and endeavours to devour it. The 
tonsured teacher applies the rod vigorously to the 
back of the recreant novice, whose natural appetites 
assert themselves and are not to be extinguished by 
the capoch. These works of art delineate episodes 
of the beast-epos, and correspond to the description 
given by Marie de France of the wolfs attempt -to 
become a monk, being drawn to this pious vocation 
by merry thoughts of fat living. Her poem might 
be rendered into English as follows — 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 191 

" There was once a priest who wished to see 
If he could teach the wolf his ABC. 
' A,' said the priest ; the wolf said ' A,' 
And grinned m a grim and guileful way. 
' B,' said the priest, ' and say it with me.' 
' B,' said the wolf, ' the letter I see.' 
' C,' said the priest, ' keep on just so.' 
' C,' said the wolf. ' Don't be so slow,' 
Remarked the priest ; ' come, go on now.' 
And the wolf replied : ' I don't know how.' 
' Then see how it looks and spell it out.' 
' Lamb, lamb, it means without a doubt.' 
' Beware,' said the priest, ' or you'll get a blow, 
For your mouth with your thoughts doth overflow.' 
And thus it haps ofttimes to each. 
That his secret thought is by his speech 
Revealed, and, ere he is aware. 
Is out of his lips and in the air." * 

Near the wolf seizing the lamb is Samson in the 
act of tearing open the jaws of a lion. The long 

1 " Fable 80. — DHm prestre et d'un lou. 

" Una prestres volt jadis aprendre 
I lou a letres fere entendre. 
A dist li prestres. — A dist li leus 
Qui mult est fel et engingneux. 
B dist li prestres, di o moi. 
B dist li leux, la letre voi. 
C dist li prestres, di avant. 
C dist li leus. Ail dont tant, 
Respont li prestres, or di par toi. 
Li leu respont : je ne sai coi. 
Di que te semble, si espel. 
Respont li leus : Aignel, aignel. 
Li prestres dist : que verte touche ; 
Tel on penser, tel en la bouche. 
De pensons, le voit I'en souvent; 
Ce dont il pensent durement. 
Est par la bouche conneu. 
Aingois que d'autre soit seu, 
La bouche monstre le penser; 
Tout doit ele de li parler." 

192 Animal Symbolism 

hair of the Hebrew solar hero, which in the myth 
is said to be the source of his strength, as the force 
of the sun is in its rays, has caused this figure to 
be mistaken for a woman, and interpreted as a 
symbol of spiritual power overcoming brute force. 
A similar sculpture adorns a console in the Stifts- 
kirche at Stuttgart, a capital in the church of 
Remagen in the Rhineland, and the outside of the 
apsis of the old Romanic church at Schdngrabem 
in Lower Austria. Here Samson wears his hair in 
a long braid. It may be found also on the portal 
of the cathedral of St. Stephen's in Vienna, on an 
altar in the monastery Klostemeuberg, on a stall 
in the cathedral of Amiens, and on the capital of 
a column in the church of St. Sauveur-de-Nevres, 
where it bears the inscription : " Samson adest, 
heros fortis." Indeed, it is very common in 
mediaeval church edifices and on consecrated 
vessels, and is sometimes associated with repre- 
sentations of Christ's deliverance of the captive 
spirits from hell, as in a painting in the vestibule 
of Freiburg Minster. Another sculpture in this 
minster shows a man contending against a griffin, 
which signifies the effort to overcome carnal 
passion. So, too, the centaur, which will be more 
fully considered hereafter, is the symbol of what 
Paul calls the natural man, or Jiomo animal, as it is 
rendered in the Vulgate. 

Flogel {Gesckichte der komisdien Literatur, iii. 
358) mentions a beautifully-embroidered cushion 
of^the provost's chair in the collegiate church of 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 193 

St. Michael at Pforzheim. The embroidery repre- 
sents a wolf in monastic garb standing in a pulpit 
and discoursing from an open book to a flock of 
geese, which are devoutly listening and holding 
each a rosary in its beak. The sacristan, who per- 
forms the duties of goose-herd, is dressed in motley. 
Out of the hood of the preacher projects the head 
of a goose. A fox is lying in wait under the pulpit, 
and round the wolf is embroidered the verse — 

" Ich will euch wohl viel Fabeln sagen, 
Bis ich fiihle alln * mein Kragen." 

" Of febles to you I'll tell a deal, 
Till in my maw I all may feel." 

This cushion was purchased in 1 540 by Jacob Heer- 
brand. Chancellor of the University of Tubingen, 
whein he was sent with other theologians to promote 
the cause of the Reformation in the Margravate 
of Baden-Durlach, and was used by him against 
the papacy in his polemical treatise, Refutatio 
defensionis assertionum Jesuiticarum. 

In this manner the whole beast-epos was diverted 
from its original course, as a purely narrative poem, 
into the turbulent and more or less filthy channel 
of religious controversy. Thus a zealous champion 
of Protestantism, John Bale, published at Zurich 
in 1542, under the pseudonym of John Harryson, 
a book entitled : " Yet a Course at the Romysche 
foxe, a dysclos3mge or openynge of the Manne of 
Synne." Catholic defenders of the faith, too, were 

' Alln = alle in. The sense is the same whether we read 
Kragen (craw) or Magen (maw). 


1 94 Animal Symbolism 

not slow in filling their quivers with arrows drawti 
from the same exhaustless source. Not only the 
printing-press, but also the walls and other parts 
of sacred edifices were put to polemical purposes, 
as, for example, in the chancel of St. Semin at 
Toulouse, where a fat hog in gown and bands dis- 
coursing from a pulpit is styled Calvin le pore 
preschant (" Calvin the pig preaching "). This is the 
interpretation given to the carving and its legend 
by M. de Montalembert ; but the clerical animal 
is not cloven-hoofed, and resembles an ass rather 
than a pig, and the inscription may read Calvin 
le pere, since a nail driven into the second letter 
of the third word has so defaced it as to render it 
difficult to decipher. This work of art may, there- 
fore, portray "Father Calvin" in the form of an 
ass preaching heresies to his deluded disciples, one 
of whom is kneeling before the sacred desk with 
eyes devout and the palm of his hand on an open 
book, as if appealing to Holy Writ in confirmation 
of the doctrines proclaimed from the sacred desk. 
In St. Victor's Church at Xanten on the Rhine is 
an Ecce Homo, dating from 1536, representing 
Christ followed by a great rabble crying, " Crucify 
Him ! " The leader of this bloodthirsty mob is 
Martin Luther, who wears a pilgrim's scrip, on 
which the head of a beast of prey takes the place 
of the conventional cross and shell. Near him is 
a man making grimaces by thrusting his finger into 
his cheek, while another is throwing filth. 

The reformers of the sixteenth century indulged 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 195 

very freely in coarse caricatures of this sort, and 
often outdid their adversaries in such expressions 
of scorn. Thus Henry VIII. showed his contempt 
of the Roman See by using for official purposes a 
paper with the water-mark of a hog wearing a 
tiara, just as the Republican parliament substituted 
a fool's cap and bells for the King's arms on the 
official paper of the realm ; hence the name which 
the large folio paper used in law-offices and courts 
of justice still bears. 

One of the most noted of this class of productions 
was the so-called Papstesel, or Papal Ass. This 
monster has the form of a woman with the head 
of an ass ; the left hand is that of a human being, 
the right hand is an elephant's trunk, the rump is 
the mask-like face of a man with long beard and 
horns, and a serpentine neck ending in a dragon's 
head ; one of the feet is an eagle's claw, and the 
other an ox's hoof, and the body is covered with 
scales like a fish. 

This drawing has been commonly, but erroneously, 
attributed to the elder Lucas Cranach, who may 
have copied, but certainly did not create it. It is 
also a mistake to suppose that it was intended 
originally to ridicule the papacy. In December 
1445 the city of Rome was devastated by an in- 
undation of the Tiber, followed by famine and 
pestilence. After the waters had subsided, this 
strange carcass is said to have been found in the 
deposit of the flood on the banks of the river, 
and a full description of it is given in Malipiero's 

196 Animal Symbolism 

Venetian annals.^ No contemporary writer seems 
to have entertained the slightest doubt that the 
remains of such an abnormal creature were actually 
discovered ; the only difference of opinion that 
could possibly arise would be in regard to its origin 
and significance, whether it was a work of God or 
of Satan, and what it might forebode. 

In the middle ages monstrosities and freaks of 
nature were looked upon as dire portents, and 
every marvellous phenomenon was deemed a sure 
sign of the impending wrath of God. Not only 
comets, eclipses, and other remarkable appearances 
in the sky, but even any uncommon occurrence on 
the earth, such as a fall of red snow, sufficed to fill 
the hearts of men with chilling fear, and to freeze 
the blood in their veins ; and the birth of a double- 
headed calf or a deformed pig was a source of 
terror to whole nations. The intellectual awaken- 
ing, known as the revival of letters, tended to 
confirm rather than to undermine the belief in the 
existence of monstrosities, inasmuch as it cultivated 
and diffused a literature all alive with centaurs, 
faiins, satyrs, hippocamps, tritons, sirens, nereids, 
sphinxes, griffins, dragons, minotaurs, and chimeras, 
the reality of which no true humanist would think 

, i Archivo Storico, vii. 422. Cf. Der Papstesel, ein Beitrag 
'zur Kultur- und Kunstgeschichte des ReformationszeHalters, 
voa Konrad Lange, Gottingen, 1891. This monograph con- 
tains the most thorough discussion of the subject hitherto 
published, including a clear and consistent account of the 
•Origin and character of this monstrous figment of the 
imagination, and the symbolical and satirical purposes 
which it was made to subserve. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 197 

of calling in question, and the renascence of which, 
soon exerted a marked influence upon the decorative 
arts. With a like faith begotten of enthusiasm, 
scholars accepted the reports of Herodotus, the 
father of history, and of Ktesias, the Munchausen 
of classical antiquity, concerning goat-hoofed and 
dog-headed men, one-legged giants, men with one 
eye [inonoculi — perhaps a primitive race of dudes), 
men with eyes in their breasts, and others with 
their heads beneath their shoulders, or without any 
heads at all. It is not surprising, therefore, that 
the sixteenth century, notwithstanding its superior 
enlightenment and reputation for learning, should 
have produced numerous and ponderous tomes de- 
voted to the description and exposition of marvels 
and monstrosities. Perhaps the most exhaustive 
repertory of this kind is the Prodigiorum ac 
ostentorum Chronicon of Lycosthenes (Wolfhart), 
published at Bale in 1557. The author begins 
with the serpent in Eden, " ante Christum 3959," 
and gives a brief account, with rough woodcuts, 
of every wonderful thing he had ever heard or 
read of down to A.D. 1557, in a volume of six 
hundred and seventy pages. In the Royal Library 
of Munich there are two copies of this work, one 
of which has a manuscript continuation of more 
than fifty pages, bringing it down to 1677, with 
many drawings in the style of the illustrations 
contained in the printed book. To this is added 
by a third chronicler, in French, the queer descrip- 
tion of a spectral battle between three armies, said 


Animal Symbolism 

to have been fought in the clouds on February 25, 
1696, and witnessed by more than two hundred 
persons. In accordance with the current opinion 
of their time, both Lycosthenes and the author 
of the continuation interpret these phenomena as 
tokens of the divine anger, and endeavour to 
connect them with great physical disasters and 
noteworthy historical events. 

Shakespeare indicates the fascination which such 
vulgar superstitions and tales of prodigies had for 
the most refined and sensitive persons of an earlier 
day, when he makes Othello beguile the gentle 
Desdemona of her tears and win her heart by 
discoursing about them. Not only the outl5nng 
and unexplored regions of the 
earth, but the sea 'also was pro- 
lific of wonders, the most re- 
markable of which was the so- 
called bishop-fish {Episcopus 
marinus) or sea-bishop {Meer- 
bischof), a specimen of which is 
said to have been caught in the 
Baltic in 1433. It had a mitre 
on its head, a crosier in its hand, 
and wore a dalmatica. The 
king of Poland wished to con- 
fine it in a tower, but it stub- 
bornly resisted this attempt on 
its freedom, and by mute ges- 
tures entreated its fellow-prelates, 
the bishops of the realm, to whom it showed 

(pessnef's Fischbuch,) 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 199 

special reverence, to let it return to its native 
element. This request was finally granted, and, in 
token of joy and gratitude, it made the sign of the 
cross, and gave the episcopal benediction with its 
fin, as it disappeared under the waves. Engravings 
of this marine marvel were published in Gessner's. 
Fischbuch in 1575, in Schott's Physica Curiosa, and 
in other works of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries. In 1531, according to Dutch chroniclers, 
another bishop-fish was taken in the German Ocean, 
and sent to the king of Poland, but it obstinately 
refused to eat anything, and died on the third day 
of its captivity. Gessner describes also the merman 
(^Homus marinus) and the mermonk {Monachus 
piarinus), said to have been taken in the Baltic, 
the British Channel, in the Red Sea, and on the 
coast of Dalmatia. Evidently we have here to do 
with some of the numerous species of seals seen 
through the magnifying and distorting medium of 
religious superstition. The Jesuit Gaspar Schott, 
in the above-mentioned work, a volume of nearly 
fourteen hundred pages, discusses all sorts of 
tnonsters and marvels real and imaginary, demons, 
spooks, deformed men, energumens, birds, abnormi- 
ties of land and sea, and portents of earth and 
sky, showing the material, efficient, and final causes 
of such phenomena. All these strange forms were 
supposed to be special creations or manifestations 
having a profound spiritual significance, and bear- 
ing peculiar relations to the Church, which drew 
them into its pale, and put them to decorative and 

20O Animal Symbolism 

didactic uses in ecclesiastical architecture, as, for 
example, in the rose-window of the south transept 
of the cathedral of Lausanne, dating from the 
thirteenth century. 

Whatever may have been the origin of the 
Roman monster, whether the story arose from the 
fortuitous concurrence of parts of men and of 
beasts that had perished in the flood, or was the 
trick of some wag, whose love of a joke could not 
be repressed by the horrors of the situation, or was 
a mere invention of the imagination excited by 
fear, there is no doubt that drawings of it were 
made soon after its supposed discovery. The 
earliest known representation of it in art is a relief 
on the north door of the cathedral of Come, 
sculptured by the brothers Jacob and Thomas 
Rodari about the year 1497.^ As a satire on the 
see of Rome it would certainly not have found a 
place in a Catholic church at that time ; but as a 
divine admonition and warning, and especially as 
a symbol of the woes of inundation, foreign in- 
vasion, famine, and pestilence, by which the States 
of the Church and Italy were then sorely afflicted, 
such a carving, however offensive to the taste of 
the present day, would have been considered 
perfectly appropriate and even highly edifying. 

If, as Lange assumes, the strange figure was 

' This door is popularly known bs porta della rana, from 
the carving of a frog snapping at an insect. The frog, 
according to the Physiologus, is a type of those who snatch 
at the fleeting pleasures of this world. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 201 

simply an allegory of the city of Rome, it would 
naturally be portrayed as a female.; the ass's head 
would signify subjugation and servitude ; the 
elephant's proboscis would indicate the pest of 
syphilis, then confounded with elephantiasis, which 

Papal Ass. {Cathedral ofComo.) 

the Spaniards had introduced into Naples from 
the New World, and the French troops had brought 
with them to Rome ; the eagle's claw would repre- 
sent the rapacity of Charles VIII.; the ox's hoof 
would refer to Alexander VI., whose coat-of-arms 
was an ox, and who kept his footing in the Vatican 

202 Animal Symbolism 

only by sharing his power with the French king, 
while the scaly skin would suggest the devastating 
overflow of the Tiber. 

About this time, however, the dissoluteness of 
the Roman pontiff, and the scandalous conduct of 
his mistresses and his children, began to excite the 
attention and to provoke the censure of the public 
to such a degree, that there would be a general 
tendency to interpret the monster, not perhaps as 
a symbol of the institution of the papacy, but as a 
satire on the licentious occupant of the apostolic 
see, and a warning from God against the evil 
doings of the Vicar of Christ. 

Somewhat later, probably about the year 1 500, it 
was engraved on copper by the goldsmith Wenzel 
of Olmutz, and seems to have been accepted by 
the Moravians as emblematic of the Romish hier- 
archy, and used as a means of anti-papal agitation. 
It next appears as a woodcut in Melanchthon's 
Figur des Antichristlichen Bapsts vnd seiner 
Synagog, published in 1523, and again in the same 
year in his and Luther's joint work entitled, Deutung 
der czwo grewlichen Figuren Bapstesels czu Rom, 
vnd Munchkalbs zu Freyberg ynn Meysszen funden. 
A new and improved edition of Melanchthon's 
exposition of the Papstesel was printed at Witten- 
berg in 1535, and endorsed with Luther's "Amen." 
It also appears as Plate II. in Luther's AbbilduHg 
des Bapstum (Wittenberg, 1545), a series of coarse 
and positively indecent woodcuts, probably the 
work of Lucas Cranach, with explanatory doggerel 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 203 

verses. In a letter of June 3, 1545, to Nicholas 
von Amsdorf, first Protestant bishop of Raumburg, 
the Reformer writes : " Your nephew George showed 
me a picture of the pope," adding by way of 
comment, and evidently with a chuckle of delight, 
"but Master Lucas is ein grober Maler ;" and in a 
letter of June 1 5 to the same friend he remarks : 
" I shall endeavour to have Lucas the painter 
exchange this foul picture for a more proper one." 
The reference here is not to the Papstesel, but to 
Plate I., entitled, Orttis et origo Papce (" Rise and 
Origin of the Pope "), and representing his Holiness 
as the excrements of a ghastly, grinning monster. 
The infant pontiff, thus born in corruption, is reared 
by the Furies, Alecto rocking his cradle, Megsera 
acting as his wet-nurse, and Tisiphone holding him 
in leading strings. It is evident from the descriptive 
rhymes accompanying these drawings that Luther 
fully entered into the spirit of the artist's con^ 
ceptions, and heartily enjoyed their coarse humour. 
His seeming censure of the " gross painter " and 
the " foul picture," and the expression of his intention 
of having a more decent delineation substituted 
for it, must be taken ironically, and may have been 
called forth by some criticism of his correspondent 
The " Miinchkalb " (monk-calf), the second of the 
monsters delineated and discussed in the Interpret- 
ation of two grewsome Figures already cited, was 
reported to have been taken from a cow in a public 
slaughter-house at Freiburg, December 12, 1522, 
and to have had a round, flabby, and mis-shapen 

204 Animal Symbolism 

head with a tonsure, on which were two large warts 
or wens. The chin was that of a man ; the nose, 
ears, and upper jaw were those of a calf; the hide 
hung in folds between the shoulders, like a monk's 
cowl, and had slits in the hind legs, like the slashes 
in old costumes. This hideous creature was iixter- 
preted by Luther as a symbol of the stupidity 
and beastliness of the monastic orders, although 
Melanchthon afterwards discovered in it a different 
signification, explaining it as portending the ex- 
cesses of the reformatory movement that revealed 
themselves in iconoclastic outrages and the horrors 
of the Peasants' War, which broke out three years 
later. It is an interesting fact that one of the 
earliest explications of it was given by a Bohemian 
astrologer in Prague, who saw in it a condemnation 
of the heresy and apostasy of Luther, the renegade 
monk. A similar view is taken by Cochlaeus, 
Emser, and other Catholic controversialists, and in 
a treatise on monsters from the time of Constantine 
to the year 1570 by the French theologian Sorbinus,^ 
the causal connection between the birth of such 
creatures and some form of schism in the bcidy of 
Christ, or some sacrilegious assault upon the ortho- 
dox faith, is shown to the satisfaction of every true 

In the City Library of Lyons is the manuscript 
of a poem entitled De Tristibus Gallia ("Woes 
of France "), with miniature paintings of a satirical 

' Amoldi Sorbini Tholosanorum theologi et regit ecclesi- 
astce Tractatus de monstris, etc. Paris, 1570. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 205 

character directed against the sectaries and schis- 
matics, who are represented as abasing and pillaging 
the land. A lion, the symbol of France, is ridden 
by an ape, which bears a sack full of spoils, pro- 
bably taken from churches and cloisters ; another 
ape has tied a priest's vestment to the lion's hind 
leg ; a third holds the king of beasts ignominiously 
by the tail, while a fourth confronts the lion with a 
halberd. Several apes are listening to a sermon 
delivered by a field-preacher ; others are evidently 
applying the teachings of the itinerant evangelist 
by plundering consecrated places and insulting a 

The woes of France, resulting from Panama scan- 
dals, which in our day are the sensational theme of 
the journalist's pen, would have been delineated ift 
the middle ages quite as vividly and truthfully, and 
far more pleasingly, by the artist's pencil. 

As the fox not only holds a prominent place in 
the Physiologus, but is also 
the protagonist of the beast- 
epos, it is natural that this 
animal should figure con- 
spicuously in pictorial and 
plastic art, and become, from 
the very nature of its charac- The wiies of the Fox. 
teristics, a favourite vehicle (Besuary.) 

of satire. The oldest of these representations are 
based tipon the Pkysiologus, in which it is stated 
that' " when the fox is hungry, it lies down in a 
furrow of the field and covers itself partly with 

2o6 Animal Symbolism 

earth, as though it had been long dead. Then the 
ravens and other rapacious birds come to devour 
it, when it suddenly leaps up and tears them in 
pieces. Thus the devil deceives those who love 
the corrupt things of this world and obey the lusts 
of the flesh, and entices them to their own destruc- 
tion." " He who tells idle tales and indulges in 
carnal pleasures," adds an old English bestiary, 
"pecks at the skin of the fox and tears its flesh, 
but the devil requites the sinner by seizing him and 
dragging him down to murky hell. The devil and 
the reprobate are crafty like the fox, and deserve 
shame. He who speaks fair words and meditates 
evil is a fox ; such a one was Herod, for he said 
that he would believe on Christ, when he really meant 
to kill Him." 

In the church of St. Fiacre, near Le Faouet, in 
the department of Morbihan, formerly a portion of 
Brittany,- are wood-carvings on the richly-orna- 
mented rood-loft portraying these wiles of the fox, 
which in the first scene is lying on its back with 
protruding tongue and apparently dead ; instead of 
carrion-crows, as elsewhere, a cock and several in- 
quisitive hens are pecking at different parts of its 
body. In the second scene the fox has sprung up 
and caught one of them by the neck. 

There are similar reliefs on the abacus of a 
column in the cathedral of Tarragona in Spain. 
On the opposite side of the abacus are sculptures of 
what Meissner (Herrig's ArchiVy Ixv. 214) calls 
the burial of the cat, but which would seem rather 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 207 

to represent the carrying of the cat to execution. 
Tabby lies on a litter, which might be mistaken for 
a bier, but is really a stretcher used instead of a 
hangman's cart, borne by rats and mice, and pre- 
ceded by a long procession of these rodents with 
banners, vessels of holy water, aspergills, crosiers, 
censers. The executioner, a rat bearing an axe, 
marches with the full consciousness of his official 
dignity under the litter. This stately pageant is 

Execution of the Cat. i(^at1iedral of Tarragona, Spain.) 

followed by a more lively spectacle : the cat springs 
up and catches a rat, while the rest of the solemn 
assembly disperse in all directions, leaving the 
sacred utensils and the pompous paraphernalia of 
the panic-stricken procession scattered on the 
ground. The presence of the rat as headsman in- 
dicates that the execution is about to take place ; 
if it had already occurred and the " master of high 
works" {mattre des hautes-osuvres, as the French 
were wont to style this important functionary) had 

2o8 Animal Symbolism 

done his duty, it would be hard to imagine the 
decapitated culprit coming to life again, i 

Returning to St. Fiacre, we find in that quaint 
church a third relief of a fox lurking behind some 
bushes, from which a cock and three hens are 
picking snails. Still farther in the background is 
a second fox wearing a cowl and standing in a 
sort of framework or enclosure, which Champfleury 
calls a donjon, but Meissner with greater proba- 

Fox ensnaring Fowls. [jChurch of Si. Fiacre^ Le Faouet) 

bility assumes to be a pulpit. Here we have, instead 
of the fox of the Pkysiologus, the chicken-stealing 
and sanctimonious Reynard of the mediaeval epic. 

Another relief in the same church represents a 
man seated on a bench and steadying with his left 
hand a wine-cask, which rests on his knee. In his 
teeth he holds a fox by the tip of the tail, the half- 
flayed body of which hangs between his legs. 
Champfleury explains this sculpture as a figurative 
illustration of the phrase Scorcher le renard (" flay 
the fox "), i. e. suffer from what the Germans call 

1 Vide article on " Odo de Ceringtonia" in Herrig's Archiv, 
Ixiv. In a work entitled Gothic Architecture in Spain, by 
George Edniond Street, is an engraving of this piece of 
sculpture. Odo of Sherington's Book of Fables was trans- 
lated into Spanish under the title of Libro de los Gatos, of 
which a German version by Kunst has been published in 
Lemcke's Jahrbuch, vi. Cf. Voight's Kleinere Denkmaler der 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 209 

Flaying the Fox. 
{Si. Fiacre, Le Faouet.) 

Katzenjammer, or the after-effects of a drunken 
debauch. In a word, it teaches a moral lesson 
by a drastic exhibition of the 
woes of inebriety. Rabelais de- 
scribes Gargantua as a person 
who was wont to " flay the fox," 
and the common people of France 
still use the phrase piquer un 
renard ("prick a fox") in the 
same sense. Pepys records in 
his Diary on one occasion : " I 
drank so much wine that I was 
even almost foxed." Wine or 
beer that sours in fermenting is 
said " to fox " or to be " foxy," 
because it goes to the head, and by deranging the 
stomach acts as an emetic. 

On the capital of a column in the cathedral at 
Autun is chiselled the scene in which the crane 
extracts a bone from the fox's throat. Here the 
artist clothes the fable with a symbolical signifi- 
cance derived from the Physiologus and the bestiaries, 
in which the fox typifies the devil, and the crane is 
an emblem of Christian care and vigilance, ever 
active in saving souls from the jaws of hell. In 
this case, the crane must be imagined as coming 
to the rescue, not of the fox, but of the bone. 

"The fox," says the Physiologus, "injures the 
earth by burrowing in it ; the earth signifies man, 
who should bring forth the fruits of righteousness ; 
sin is the hole, which the devil digs and thereby 

i I o Animal Symbolism 

causes these fruits to wither away. As the wise 
king saith : ' Take us the foxes, the little foxes that 
spoil the vines ; for our vines have tender grapes.' 
David also spoke of becoming ' a portion of foxes ' ; 
and our Saviour bore the same testimony when He 
said : ' The foxes have holes.' " 

This teaching is embodied in a carving on a 
miserere in the celebrated Worcester Cathedral, 
which shows foxes running in and out of holes ; 
opposite this populous kennel stands John the 
Evangelist with his gospel in his hand and an 
eagle at his feet. Here the foxes are types of the 
devil, and the beholder is called upon to choose 
between the wily adversary and the herald of 
divine truth. Sometimes all four evangelists, or 
Christ alone, are thus set in opposition to the 
vulpine devils. Foxes in cowls are the itinerant 
friars, who were feared and hated by the secular 
clergy on account of their restless and innovating 
spirit and propensity to religious agitation, which 
disturbed the peace of the Church, and the comfort 
of the holders of high dignities, and the incumbents 
of fat benefices. The privileges conferred upon 
the mendicant orders by Innocent HI. and his 
successors, the reputation which many of their 
niembers justly acquired for scholarship, and the 
eminence they attained as professors at the uni- 
versities, excited the envy of the great body of 
ecclesiastics. It was their severely reformatory 
aim and exposure of established abuses, not less 
than their arrogance in the garb of poverty, that 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 211 

made them the objects of hatred and the subjects 
of satire. 

The following may serve as fair specimens of the 
manner in which the exploits of the fox are 
delineated in various European churches, and the 
spiritual or satirical uses to which they are put.^ 
In the Maison des Templiers, formerly connected 
with the neighbouring church of the Templars 
in Metz, and probably used as a refectory, are 
traces of a painting of the thirteenth century por- 
traying about thirty animals, to which the fox 
is preaching from a pulpit. Among Reynard's 
auditors are the bear, the ape, the he-goat, the 
griffin, the cock, the hare, the stork, the sow, and 
the cat, which are either holding prayer-books or 
psalters, or singing hymns from sheets of music, 
while the unicorn plays the bagpipe, and the ass 
performs on the harp. A little apart, with its 
back turned towards these worshippers, is another 
fox, in the act of receiving the chalice from a stag, 
while a third fox, dressed as a pilgrim, greets a 
leopard in passing. In the background stands a. 
tent, in which a dead animal, probably a calf, is. 

In the church of St. Denis at Amboise, twoi 
foxes with pilgrim's staff and scrip are witnessing 
the slaughter of the innocents, doubtless in allusion 
to Herod, whom Christ called " that fox." The 
frequency with which the fox appears in the garb 

' Cf. Meissner's contributions to Herrig's Archiv, Ixv., tt 

3 1 2 Animal Symbolism 

of a pilgrim is a satire on the craftiness and deceit- 
fulness of this class of pious vagrants, who were 
morally about on a level with the modem tramp. 
This is especially true of the professional pilgrim 
or palmer, who passed his life in perpetual vaga- 
bondage, and was to all intents and purposes a 
ttiediceval tramp. It is not merely an accidental 
coincidence that palmer became a synonym for 
swindler, and that the most voracious and devas- 
tating of caterpillars was called palmer-worm, but 
showed the popular appreciation of the " votarist 
in palmer's weed." 

On a stall in the cathedral of Amiens is carved 
i fox preaching to a flock of domestic fowls. The 
pulpit is in the form of a tray, and the preacher is 
ireaching over the edge, as if zealously expounding 
the Scriptures, but really for the purpose of seizing 
a hen, whose devout interest in the sermon has 
brought her into dangerous proximity to the eager- 
eyed and rapacious gospeller. Again, on the 
exterior of Canterbury Cathedral are bas-reliefs 
representing a fox in monastic habit discoursing to 
a solemn assembly of geese. 

On the underside of the seat of a faldstool in the 
choir of Sherborne Minster is a carving of the 
fox on the gallows, with four geese acting as hang- 
men, and a monk standing on either side of it with 
a book in his hand. Also on the church of St. 
Michael in Bruges is a stone sculpture, formerly 
the tympanum or facing of a pediment over the 
portal of the collegiate church of St. Ursin, repre- 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 213 

senting a cock and hen hauling a fox on a cart to 
the place of execution, and preceded by a bear 
with a ball or globe at his feet, evidently the priest 
who is to minister spiritual comfort to the culprit 
in his last moments. The fox has anything but. a 
penitent air; on the contrary, he seems to takfe 

Cock and Hen drawing Fox to execution. <5V. Ursin, Brugts,') 

quite a cheerful view of the situation, and his sly 
look implies an intention to play his executioners 
some trick before reaching the scaffold. He trie:? 
to assume a long face as he journeys towards his 
long home, but the real state of his mind is betrayed 
by the merry twinkle of his eye. It is the incident 
so humorously described by the poet of Cham- 
pagne — 

" Renard s'en allait tristement 
S'emparer de son dernier gite ; 
Canteclair s'en allail gaiement 
Enterrer son mort au plus vite. 
Notre ddfunt etait en carrosse port^, 

Bien et dument empaquet^ 
Et v€tu d'une rob^ helas i qu'on nomme biere ; 

Robe d'hiver, robe d'6t6, 
Que les morts ne d^pouillent gu^re." 

The stalls of Bristol Cathedral are adorned with 
a series of grotesques, which depict the trial of 

2 1 4 Animal Symbolism 

the fox as described in the beast-epos. First we 
have a man riding on a bear towards the fox, who 
is peeping from behind a tree; this is Bruin, the 
royal messenger, coming to summon Reynard to 
appear before the king and answer for his crimes. 
In the next scene Bruin is caught in the cleft of 
the log through his greediness for honey, and 
severely beaten by boors with cudgels. Thirdly, 
Reynard is sentenced to be hanged, and the 
necessary preparations are made for the imposing 
execution of the death-warrant. King Noble and 
his royal spouse are seated on their respective 
thrones ; the bear, the wolf, and the goose are 
helping the condemned up the fatal ladder with 
undisguised pleasure, while the squirrel sits on the 
top of the gallows-tree and pulls a rope attached 
to the poor sinner's neck. Then follows the 
mousing adventure of Tybert, the cat in the house 
of the priest, in portraying which the artist has 
adhered quite closely to the description of the 
exciting incident given by the poet, so that his 
work bears a striking resemblance to Kaulbach's 
well-known sketch. The cat, in desperate self- 
defence, scratches the priest in a very sensitive part 
of his body, to the great horror of his housekeeper, 
or, maybe, his wife (for at that time sacerdotal 
celibacy had not become imperative, and was by 
no means universal in the Catholic Church), who 
pulls the sacrilegious depredator violently by the 
tail, while the malicious instigator of all this 
trouble stands in a corner and laughs. Reynard 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 215 

appears next in a monk's hood, standing in a 
pulpit and preaching to several geese, that stretch 
out their long necks and listen with a peculiar 
expression of mingled solemnity and sentimentality 
to the seductive orator. Again the irrepressible 
proclivity of the hypocritical homilist to overreach 
some tender member of his flock brings him from 
the sacred desk to the scaffold, where he is seen 
dangling from the cross-beam of a gallows, a 
number of his former auditors holding the rope, 
and one of them tugging at the scoundrel's tail in 
order to hasten the process of strangulation, while 
another is perched on the top of the gallows, 
cackling for joy and flapping her wings in triumph. 
A woman, doubtless Reynard's wife, Dame Her- 
melin, riding on a mule and probably returning 
from her husband's trial, is the subject of the 
seventh carving ; on one side is a house, evidently 
Malepartus, with Reynard looking warily out of 
the door, and a dove-cot with several doves in it. 
In the eighth scene the bear and the wolf are 
dancing to the music of a drum beaten by an ape, 
thus showing their gladness at the condemnation 
of their common enemy. There were originally 
other carvings of incidents mentioned in the 
poem, but they have been partially destroyed, and 
those still preserved have been renovated and re-ar- 
ranged without the slightest regard to their logical 
or chronological sequence. The general resem- 
blance to Kaulbach's illustrations of Reineke Fuchs 
is due, as already intimated, to the fact that 

2 1 6 Animal Symbolism 

they both faithfully depict episodes of the same 

In this cathedral are also comical carvings of 
incidents derived from other poems and popular 
tales, as, for example, that of an abbot riding back- 
ward on an ass and holding the tail of his steed in 
his hand in the manner described in Burger's ballad, 
where the emperor says to the round, fat, oily 
abbot of St. Gall— 

" So lass' ich Euch fiihren zu Esel durch's Land, 
Verkehrt, statt des Zaumes den Schwanz in der Hand."' 

" Bestriding an ass you shall ride through the land. 
With the tail instead of the reins in your hand." 

Another series of wood-carvings are the follow- 
ing more or less fanciful delineations of the artist, 
although some represent scenes from the French 
versions of the beast-epos : — 

I. A chained and muzzled bear with a ring in 
its nose ; on either side a fox looking out slyly from 
behind a tree, and two labourers with wheel-barrows. 

II. A naked man armed with a sword, and 
attacked by two animals resembling a bear and 
a wolf; on the right side the nude buttocks of a 
man, recalling the episode in the fourteenth branch 
of the Roman de Renart : " De I'ours et du lou et 
du Vilains, qui monstrerent lor cus " — 

" Trestuit trois nos cus mostrerrons, 
Et cil qui graignor cul aura 
Le bacon tout emportera." — (xiv. 7087 sgg.) 

III. A snail creeping up a mountain and driven 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 217 

by a monk ; at a little distance a knight watching 
the performance. In the Roman de Renart the 
snail holds the responsible office of gonfalonier, 
and bears the royal standard — ^ 

^' Le Rois Tardins le limagon 
Bailla le roial gonfanon, 
Et li commanda I'avant-garde, 
Et le lupart I'arri^re-garde." — (3511-14.) 

But there is no such incident in the Reynardine 
poems as that portrayed here; Gautier de Coinsi, 
however, mentions the snail as one of the animals 
which served to adorn consecrated edifices — 

" Plus delitont sont si fait conte 
As bones gens par Saint-Omer, 
Que de Renart ne de Roumer, 
Ne de Tardin le limagon." 

In Renart le Nouvel it is the snail, as chief en- 
sign bearer, that scales the walls of Malepartus, 
after Reynard has escaped by a secret passage; 
and plants the banner of the king upon the battle- 
ments — 

" Es-vous Tardins le limagon 
Ki dist que par tans le sara. 
As Murs s'ahiert, amont rampa 
Nului n'i vit, jus descendi, 
A le porte vint, si I'ouvri ; 
Mais ains mist le roial baniere 
Ens en le maistre tour de piere 
En signe pris est li castiaus. 
Au Roi Noble est cis signes briaus." — (4214-22.) 

In a Roman Catholic prayer-book {Livre 
d'Heures) of the thirteenth century there is a 

2 1 8 Animal Symbolism 

miniature painting of a man in the act of shooting 
a snail with an arbalist or cross-bow. The snail is 
sitting erect on an arabesque resembling a vine. 
M. de Bastard thinks the snail is a symbol of Christ 
and the resurrection; but if this interpretation be 
correct, it is difficult to understand the signification 
of the cross-bowman. In another large picture of 
the fifteenth century we see a crowd of people, 
among them one woman, attacking a snail with 
swords and staves, and crying out in the words of 
the inscription — 

"Vuide ce lieu, tres orde beste. 
Qui des vignes les bourgeons mange.'' 

" Quit this place, you filthy beast. 
That eats the fresh buds of the vine." 

The Church, as we have shown in a volume 
entitled The Criminal Prosecution and Capital 
Punishment of Animals, claimed and exercised the 
power of expelling bugs and slugs and noxious 
insects from the vineyards and cultivated fields by 
anathematizing them, after they had been formally 
tried and condemned ; and it is this function of the 
papal hierarchy that the two delineations above- 
mentioned are intended to illustrate. It is not 
necessary to seek in them a more recondite sym- 
bolism or theological meaning. 

IV. Two men mounted, one on a goose and the 
other on a hog, and each armed with a spear; 
probably the caricature of a tournament. 

V. A pedlar thrown down and plundered by 
apes, which are taking the wares out of his pack. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 219 

VI. An ape as doctor examining a bottle of 

VII. An ape playing on a lute, an instrument 
whose "lascivious pleasing'' was associated with 
amorous delights and gallant intrigues. 

VIII. An ape sitting astride an ass, which a 
boor is holding by the tail and belabouring with a 

These carvings belong probably to the end of the 
fifteenth century. The stone sculptures in the 
"Elder Lady Chapel" are much older, and date 
from the early part of the thirteenth century ; the 
fox, as was its wont, is running off with a goose ; 
an ape and a ram are performing on sylvan pipes ; 
another ape is playing on a syrinx and carrying a 
hare on its back. 

Although such representations may have been 
inventions of the artist, it is hardly possible that 
they should have been placed in the church "without 
the will and consent of the ecclesiastical authorities, 
whose intention was evidently to censure by 
burlesquing the vices and foibles of their day. But 
what must be regarded as most curious and 
characteristic is, that satirical and often necessarily 
obscene delineations of this kind, although designed 
for moral reproof and correction, should have been 
deemed suitable decorations of sacred architecture. 
That they sometimes made " the judicious grieve " 
we have already seen ; but it is plain that they must 
have been sanctioned by the majority of the clergy 
and generally approved by the devout laity. 

220 Animal Symbolism 

In Beverly Minster the misereres of the stalls 
in the choir are adorned with carvings of animals, 
in which the adventures of the fox as an itinerant 
preacher are more fully delineated than in any 
other ecclesiastical edifice. During the middle 
ages, Beverly or Inderawood, as it was originally 
called, was a popular place of pilgrimage, where 
the bones of St. John of Beverly, who was Arch- 
bishop of York in the eighth century, and canonized 
by Benedict IX. in 1037, were revered by pious 
multitudes of all classes, that thronged to this 
shrine from every part of England. Even after 
the Reformation Beverly remained a stronghold of 
Catholicism, and the chief centre of reactionary 

The carvings in question were the work of 
" Johannes Wake clericus," whose escutcheon was 
a crowing cock (Wake !) ; this chanticleer may have 
been, however, a pictorial pun or heraldic rebus, a 
mere canting device, and not necessarily a family 
coat-of-arms. They were made in the very year 
(1520) in which Luther burned the papal bull at 
Wittenberg, and were directed, not against the 
secular clergy, to which Wake himself belonged, 
but against the mendicant orders, and especially 
against the Black Friars (Dominicans) and Gray 
Friars (Franciscans), then exceedingly active as 
predicants in Beverly. These restless and irritating 
elements in the sleek and comfortable sacerdotal 
body were perpetual thorns in the flesh to the 
conservative dignitaries of the Church, who regarded 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 221 

them with quite as deep aversion as they did the^ 
heretical Protestants themselves. The following 
are the subjects of the carvings : — 

I. A fox running away with a goose and pursued 
by a man. 

II. A fox in a monk's habit preaching to a flock 
of geese ; behind the exhorter is an ape that seizes 
every goose within his reach, throwing it over his 
shoulder and holding it by the neck; several of 
them are already hanging in this position. 

III. The fox is being hanged by geese, six of 
them tugging at the rope as executioners, and two 
standing by as spectators. To this carving there 
are two pendants or side-views ; in one the fox is 
lying apparently dead under the gallows, and an 
ape is removing the noose from the culprit's neck ; 
in the other the resuscitated rascal has fallen upon 
the sleeping geese and carried off two of them. 

IV. The fox steals a goose; the cries of the 
other geese attract the attention of an old woman, 
who rushes out of the house, but comes too late to 
prevent the robbery. 

V. A man pursues a fox with dogs, but the wily 
quarry is already safe in its hole and peeping out 
with a crafty look. A side-scene shows Reynard 
in bed, suffering doubtless from indigestion caused 
by over-indulgence in fat poultry. 

VI. A fox-hunt with hounds. 

VII. Three peasants are hauling a cart with a 
fox lying on it, evidently a representation of 
Reynard's trick of pretending to be dead, and being 

222 Animal Symbolism 

picked up and thrown on the cart, where the fish, 
with which it is laden, can be eaten at leisure. 

Besides these episodes from the beast-epos, there 
are many purely grotesque carvings or scenes 
intended to enforce moral lessons or to illustrate 
the wisdom of homely proverbs ; a cat playing the 
fiddle for dancing mice, which she sports with and 
finally eats ; an elephant with a howdah ; a dance of 
death with two men in motley ; a man putting his 
cart before the horse, and another threshing eggs 
with a flail ; a woman pulling a man by the hair ; 
an animal eating out of a narrow-necked vessel, in 
which its head is stuck fast ; a boar-hunt ; a stag- 
hunt; an owl surrounded by small birds; a lion 
with its paw on a woman's head ; a boar playing 
the bagpipe and another the harp, young pigy 
dancing, and an ape on horseback leading three 
muzzled bears by chains; a pedlar plundered by 
apes ; an ape as doctor examining a flask of mine ; 
an ape dandling an infant; a miser hoarding his. 
money, while the devil seizes him from behind ; a 
drunkard holding a goblet and clutched by a demon, 
and finally several canting arms of canons, such as 
cocks fighting on a tun (Cockton), persons placing 
weights on scales (Witton^ /. e. Weight on), a 
crowing cock (Wake), and other equally far-fetched 

In the church of St. Mary in Beverly are still 
older carvings of a like character : two capoched 
foxes at a lectern reading scripture-lessons ; a fox 
as friar preaching; a fox engaged in a medical 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 223 

diagnosis as above ; foxes with crosiers, and each 
with a goose in its hood ; and a man riding a goat 
with a rabbit under his arm. The dress of the 
foxes shows them to be Cistercians. 

On the stalls of the choir in Lincoln Cathedral 
are somewhat similar wood-carvings dating from 
the fourteenth century : two apes bearing a young 
ape on a bier, and stopping to pray before a chapel 
or shrine ; a crane dropping stones into a bottle in 
order to make the water rise within reach ; and the 
devil blowing a fire with a bellows and boiling a 
kettle, out of which emerges a man wearing a tiara. 
This is probably a satire on the election of a pope. 

In Ely Cathedral we find a fox preaching to 
geese ; the vulpine divine wears an almuce and 
stole, and holds a bishop's crook in the left hand ; 
in the right hand is a scroll, with the words already 
quoted from a similar representation on the window 
of St. Martin's Church in Leicester : " Testis est 
mihi Deus quam cupiam vos visceribus meis." 
Another fox is running off with a goose, and is 
pursued by an old woman with a distaff. There 
are also carvings of squirrels, symbols of the con- 
stant strivings of the Holy Spirit ; apes ; a hunt ; 
a hart trampling on a serpent, typifying Christ 
subduing Satan by the waters of salvation ; two 
men playing dice and drinking, and a woman stand- 
ing near and weeping over a broken bee-hive fallen 
to the ground, a moral discourse on drunkenness 
as subversive of domestic happiness and thrift 

Carvings of a like character decorate the 

224 Animal Symbolism 

cathedrals of Gloucester and Winchester, and 
satirize the same religious fraternities. Indeed 
they existed formerly in nearly all the principal 
English churches and priories, adorning usually the 
stalls of the choir, the lectern, or the organ-loft. 
At a later period, when the Reformation began to 
be an earnest movement intensively and extensively, 
and interpreted these works as deriding the offices 
of the Church and scoffing at the clergy, the very 
persons to whom they owed their origin, they were 
in many cases destroyed, as, for example, in the 
fine old Gothic cathedral at Chester. 

In the collegiate church of St. Victor, at Xanten 
on the Rhine, are carvings on the backs of the stalls 
of the choir, in which the begging friars are figured 
as a monster with the body and feet of a pig, the 
tail of a fox, and the head of a cowled monk. It 
is a piece of symbolism recalling the portentous 
porco sacerdos mentioned by Lycosthenes (p. 529), 
and embodying in plastic form the opinion ex- 
pressed by Innocent III., who, as a man of learn- 
ing and lover of the nicer elegancies of life, at first 
refused to confirm the rules of the order of St. 
Francis, saying that they were more fit for swine 
than for human beings. 

The Benedictine Odo of Sherington, who lived 
in the twelfth century, in his fable of the wolf in 
sheep's clothing denounces the rapacity and hypo- 
crisy of the Cistercians, stigmatizing them as rene- 
gades and legacy-hunters, and declaring that he 
would rather associate with a pagan or a Jew than 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 225 

with such a monk. Many of the carvings already- 
described derive their inspiration directly from 
Odo's fables, and inculcate his teachings. 

An American bishop and High-Churchman was 
wont to call out to his servant, whenever a dissent- 
ing orthodox minister visited him : " John, count 
the spoons ; there is an evangelical in the house ! " 
This warning, although not intended by the cor- 
pulent and otherwise good-humoured prelate to be 
taken seriously, expresses the real antipathy of 
mediaeval bishops and other secular clergy towards 
the mendicant and predicant orders. 

The embodiment of this feeling in works of art 
was by no means confined to the ecclesiastical 
edifices of England, although more frequently 
met with there than on the Continent, especially 
in the churches and monasteries belonging to the 
Benedictines. Foxes in the disguise of begging 
friars are found in the cathedral of St. Etienne at 
Limoges, in St. Jaurin of Evreux, in the cathedral 
of Le Mans, and were formerly on the arms of the 
seats in the chancel of the cathedral Notre Dame 
at Rouen, but were hewn off by an over-zealous 
iconoclastic canon. 

On the frieze of a column in St. Peter's Church 
at Aulnay is the sculpture of an ass standing on 
its hind legs and invested with a dalmatica. It 
is evidently "Bernard li arciprestres,'' as the ass 
is called in the Roman de Renart, and may be 
regarded as a scoffing allusion to the noble and 
saintly reformer of the Bernardines and Cistercians. 


226 Animal Symbolism 

In the magnificent cathedral of Toledo in Spain 
are reliefs carved towards the close of the fifteenth 
century, and representing a bear near a beehive in 
search of honey; a fox strangling a cock; a woman 
riding on a mule to market with two geese in a 
basket, and a fox creeping up behind her in order 
to steal them ; an ape feeding a duck with a spoon, 
and a young ape catching hold of the old one and 
evidently soliciting a share of the food ; a pig with 
a girdle and a knife (the pig turned butcher); the 
story of Aristotle as related in the Lai d'Aristote; 
a man in motley approaching a tent, where he is 
received by a naked woman, who draws aside the 
curtain in order to admit him. 

The Lay of Aristotle is a satire on the power 
of love and the irresistible fascination of female 
beauty, against which neither philosophic wisdom 
nor old age is proof. The poem, based upon an 
old tradition, was written by Henri d'Andely, a 
canon of the cathedral of Notre-Dame of Rouen 
at the end of the twelfth century, and is contained 
in Etienne Barbazan's collection of Fabliaux et 
Contes Frangqis des XII'. — XV'. Siecles (Paris, 
1756). The fable is briefly as follows. Whilst 
Alexander was pursuing his career of conquest in 
the Orient, he became so deeply enamoured of an 
East Indian girl as, in the opinion of his soldiers, 
to imperil the success of the campaign by giving 
to dalliance too much rein. Aristotle was there- 
upon deputed by the army to remonstrate with 
the young monarch, who confessed his fault and 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 227 

promised to have no further intercourse with the 
dangerous beauty. Naturally the young lady was 
quick to observe the change, and on reproaching 
her lover with neglect and learning the cause of 
it, vowed to avenge herself on the officious philo- 
sopher. Accordingly the next day she went into 
the orchard wearing only a long chemise of finest 
muslin, and walked to and fro under Aristotle's 
windows, singing to herself and culling flowers. 
Aristotle looked out and at first feigned indiffer- 
ence, but soon had his wise head turned, and 
descending to the orchard made an ardent declara- 
tion of love, and expressed his willingness to do 
anything to win her favour. As a test of the 
sincerity of his affection she demanded that he 
should condescend to be her palfrey. After some 
hesitation he acceded to this humiliating proposal, 
permitted himself to be saddled and bridled, and 
began to creep over the grass on all fours with 
the exultant girl seated on his back, holding the 
reins in one hand and a riding-whip in the other. 
Alexander, who had watched the progress of this 
gallant adventure from a window of the palace, 
now drew near and derided the absurd infatuation 
of his grave preceptor, who candidly confessed his 
folly, but could not refrain from the pedagogical 
habit of drawing a moral lesson from it for the 
benefit of others. " Beware," he said, " for if love 
can make such a fool of an old man, how much 
more dangerous must it be to youth ! " 

The Lay of Aristotle seems to have been often 


Animal Symbolism 

delineated in Christian art, especially in cloisters, 
where it was designed to glorify asceticism and 
celibacy. One of the finest representations of it 
is a bas-relief underneath a console on the facade 
of the cathedral church of Saint- Jean in Lyons, 
dating from the fifteenth century. Behind the 

philosopher, degraded 
to a lady's palfrey, is 
a hare, the symbol of 
libidinousness ; in the 
two corners above are 
persons generally sup- 
posed to be Alexander 
and his mistress; it is 
probable, however, that 
the scene on the right, 

The "Lay of Aristotle." 
{Saint-Jean, Lyons.) 

slightly mutilated, represents Aristotle declaring 
his love, and the one on the left the young lady 
imposing the conditions on which her favour may 
be secured. There is also a sculpture of the story 
of Aristotle on a capital in the church of Saint- 
Pierre in Caen, as well as one in the apex of an 
arch and another on the base of a column in the 
cloister of Cadouin. They used to be interpreted 
as portraying the conjugal relations of Samson 
and Delilah, but really have a broader application 
in illustration of the concluding lines of Henri 
d'Andely's poem — 

" Veritez est, et je le di, 
Qu' amors vainc tout et tout vaincra 
Tant com cis si&cles durera." 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 229 

Mediaeval legend makes Vergil the hero of an 
equally farcical affair of gallantry with the 
daughter of the Emperor of Rome, who invited 
him to a rendezvous at the foot of a tower in 
which she dwelt. She then ordered her attendants 
to let down from her window a basket by a rope, 
for the ostensible purpose of drawing him up ; but 
instead of being lifted to the goal of his lofty hopes 
he was left suspended in the midway air, and 
became an object of scoffing to every passer-by. 
This episode was also sculptured on a pillar in 
the cloister of Cadouin, but has been gradually 
destroyed, so that only few traces of it are now 
left. It was commonly supposed to represent the 
manner in which Saul of Tarsus after his con- 
version escaped the fury of the Jews by being let 
down in a basket from the wall of Damascus. 
The monks were extremely fond of selecting the 
wisest and most illustrious men of pagan antiquity, 
and thus satirizing their frailty in their relations 
to women in order to exalt their own cloistered 
virtue and saintly chastity. 

These cynical, satirical, moral, and sometimes 
perhaps purely fanciful delineations, with the 
description of which it would be easy to fill a large 
volume, were derived almost exclusively from the 
cycle of Reynard's adventures, as recorded in dif- 
ferent versions of the beast-epos, and have rarely 
any relation to the Physiologus. But it is not 
probable that they would have ever found admis- 

230 Animal Symbolism 

sion to church edifices or have served to decorate 
ecclesiastical architecture, if the Physiologus had 
not furnished a precedent and thus justified the 
intrusion. In the footsteps of the fabulous fauna 
and mythical monstrosities of the Physiologus and 
the bestiaries, as they were led along by exegetical 
threads of the slenderest and flimsiest sort into the 
innermost sanctuary, followed the whole lively and 
noisy pack of Reynard and his companions, who 
soon took possession of the chancel, the chapels, 
and the pulpit, and finally overran the entire build- 
ing, nestling in capitals, creeping along cornices, 
squatting on balustrades, peeping out of illuminated 
windows, peering over portals, and grimacing as 
gargoyles from the roof. The beasts, which gained 
admittance as symbols of divine mysteries and 
illustrations of theological dogmas, were succeeded 
and superseded by other beasts, which were at 
first intended to caricature the preaching friars 
and to censure their vices, but at last came to be 
regarded as a parody of the sacred rites themselves, 
and a satire on those who celebrate them. 

The Romance of Reynard was diverted to 
polemical purposes, just as the Vision of Piers 
Plowman was at the time of the Reformation. 
William Langland did not write his poem with 
any intention of assailing the Catholic religion, 
although he . did not hesitate to expose ecclesi- 
astical abuses, and thus supplied the Reformers of 
the sixteenth century with a full quiver, from 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 231 

which they drew many keen-pointed darts to hurl 
against the hated hierarchy. As is well known, 
the writings of Chaucer and Petrarch were used 
very effectively in the same way. The author of 
Piers Plowman is extremely severe in his stric- 
tures on the " foure ordres " of begging friars, 
namely, Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, and 
Augustines; especially the first two seem to have 
been the peculiar objects of his aversion. The 
Benedictines hated these orders, and not only 
warned the people against them in sermons, but 
also burlesqued them in the carvings, paintings, 
and sculptures of their cloisters and churches, 
portraying them as wily foxes, ravenous wolves, 
asses, hogs, and stinking and salacious goats ; and 
there is no doubt that the obnoxious freres, how- 
ever worthy may have been the original objects 
of the brotherhoods, soon degenerated into persons 
who made a profession of poverty, but practised 
all sorts of fraud to enrich their convents, which 
became in a short time the grandest and wealthiest 
in England. They succeeded in acquiring immense 
influence over the masses, and thereby excited the 
envy and jealousy of the secular clergy, and made 
themselves odious to the better classes by reason 
of their intrigues and arrogance, and their success 
in extorting rich bequests from the dying. They 
were the sensational preachers of their day, and 
sought to attract crowds by novel doctrines, eccen- 
tric manners, coarse wit, funny stories, rhetorical 
pyrotechnics, and other astounding feats of pulpit 

232 Animal Symbolism 

prestidigitation, so that Langland was wholly 
justified in denouncing them as 

" but jugulers and iapers, of kynde, 
Lorels and lechures and lemmans holden," 


" ryht as Robertes men raken aboute 
At feires and at ful ales and fyllen the cuppe, 
And precheth all of pardon to plesen the puple." 

In the frequent representations of animals per- 
forming on musical instruments and like whimsical 
conceits the artist did not take his subjects either 
-from the Physiologus or the beast-epos, but was 
permitted to give line and scope to the sarcastic 
suggestions of his own fancy in censure of public 
folly and iniquity. On the stalls of the choir in 
Boston Minster, St. Botolph's in Lincolnshire, and 
on a churchwarden's pew now in the H6tel de 
Cluny, are carvings of pigs playing on the organ 
or on the harp. The hog and also the dog as 
harpist occur in St. Peter's Cathedral, Poitiers, 
and date from the first half of the thirteenth 
century. In the cathedral of Burgos, a splendid 
monument of pure Gothic style erected by German 
architects in the thirteenth century, are carvings 
of a bishop carried off by a bull-headed devil ; two 
knights and their ladies dancing to the dulcet 
tones of a lute ; pigs seated on stools and eating 
pap out of pots ; wine-skins as knights on horse- 
back, with lances in the rest and ready to tilt, 
evidently a caricature of tournaments and persi- 
flage of theological polemics ; a sow spinning 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 233 

while giving suck to her farrow, and a boar caus- 
ing the organ to peal for the entertainment and 
edification of his family; a sow playing on the 
bagpipe, and her pigs dancing round an over- 
turned trough ; a man assailed and knocked down 
by apes, whose young he had captured ; a fox 
as hunter riding on a dog, and carrying on his 
shoulders another dog tied by its hind legs to a 
stick, showing how the tables may be turned. As 
it was the assumed and generally acknowledged 
function of the Church to correct and reprove all 
forms of vice and folly, and to do what Hamlet 
asserted to be "the purpose of playing," namely, 
"to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own 
image, and the very age and body of the time 
his form and pressure," perhaps we have in these 
beastly musicians a satire on the numerous wander- 
ing-minstrels, mediseval Bohemians, and vagabond 
Beghards, whose morals were not of the best. 
Some such motive would explain their admission 
into the Church more satisfactorily than to regard 
them as mere caprices of the artist, which the 
ecclesiastical authorities tolerated simply because 
they amused the public. Besides, the repetition 
of them in so many churches in different coun- 
tries would imply a general scheme of reform 
and systematic crusade against the prevailing 

The collegiate church at Manchester, in which 
many grotesque designs of this sort are found, 
contains also hunting-scenes with tuns, evidently 

234 Animal Symbolism 

allusions in rebus to Huntington, the first warden. 
In numerous instances it is impossible to solve 
these artistic puzzles, as neither history nor local 
tradition has preserved the key to them. An eagle 
flying away with a child to its aerie is the memorial 
of an incident said to have occurred in the house 
of Stanley, one of whose members, James Stanley, 
was the warden of Manchester College from 1506 
to 1515-^ The same family tradition is carved on 
a stool in the chancel of Salisbury Cathedral, and 
might easily be mistaken for an eagle mounting up 
with an eaglet to the sun. 

Rats hanging a cat in the presence of owls, that 
are looking on with judicial gravity and an air of 
profound legal wisdom, are depicted in Great Mal- 
vern Abbey, and may illustrate the doctrine of final 

Beside excellent specimens of the commoner 
symbols founded on the Physiologies, such as the 
unicorn asleep in the lap of a virgin, the pelican 
feeding her young with blood from her breast, and 
others of a similar character, there is, on one of 
the stalls in the chancel of Boston Minster, the 
carving of an armed knight on a steed in harness. 
While the horse is in full gallop one of its shoes 
is flung off", but the rider, without stopping, turns 
round in his saddle and catches the shoe in his 
hand as it flies through the air. Meissner suggests 
that this may be mythological, and celebrate the 

' Cf. Herrig's Archiv, Ixv. 217-222. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 235 

exploit of some Scandinavian god or hero. More 
probably, however, it immortalizes the marvellous 
feat of some Lincolnshire chevalier, and has only 
a local importance. 

On the old church of Marienhafen, in East Fries- 
land, were numerous animals cut in stone, which 
adorned the portal and extended on the frieze 
entirely round the building. The edifice was de- 
molished in 1829, but the city architect of Emden, 
Marten, made drawings of the sculptures as they 
lay scattered about in the churchyard, and they 
were subsequently published by the " Gesellschaft 
fiir bildende Kunst und vaterlandische AlterthUmer 
zu Emden." ^ One series of these works of art tells 
the story of the wolf at school, and does not differ 
essentially from the reliefs at Freiburg already 
described. Another series portrays the burial of 
the fox, and follows quite closely the text of the 
last branch of the Roman de Renart. An animal 
in a cowl is reading the Gospel, another is cele- 
brating mass at an altar, while an ape, as acolyte, 
rings the sacring-bell; a fourth animal is standing 
on its hind legs and reading the lections. 

The next scene is a funeral banquet : one of the 
animals is sweeping the dining-hall, another draw- 
ing wine, a third carrying a bowl or pitcher, and 
others bringing food into the hall, where numerous 
animals are feasting. At the table three apes are 
carving a joint, a fourth is eating a piece of bread, 

' Cf. Das Ostfriesische Monatsblatt, June, 1878. 

236 Animal Symbolism 

and a fifth is holding an empty glass to be filled. 
Then comes the funeral procession : one animal 
with a censer, another with a cross, a hog with 
an aspergill and a basin of holy water, an ass in 
priestly robes, a horse as sexton with a spade, 
a camel with a tabor, a goat with a bell, a wolf 
bearing a crucifix, a pig with a shovel, and a fox 
lying on a bier. In another scene at the grave two 
horned animals seize the deceased by the head and 
feet and lay him in the pit. These are the under- 
takers, Brichemer the stag and Belin the ram, as 
described in the French poem — 

" Li Cors ont iluec descendu 
Qui covert iert d'un paile vert, 
Et quant il I'orent descovert 
Brichemer par le chief le prist, 
Ainsi con Bemart h aprist, 
Qui maint mis en terre en avoit ; 
A Behn que devant lui voit 
A fet Renart par les piez prendre. 
En la fosse sanz plus attendre 
L'ont mis et couchie doucement, 
Et I'Arciprestre innelement 
Geta sus I'eue beneoite." 

In the sculptures a priest, standing behind the stag, 
gives the benediction, an animal resembling a pig 
sprinkles holy water with an aspergill, and an ape 
gazes sorrowfully into the grave, by which two 
shovels are lying. The animals are much defaced, 
so that it is impossible sometimes to determine 
what kind of creatures they are intended to repre- 
sent. Another group tells the story of the goat in 
the well. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 237 

The western portal of the cathedral of Branden- 
burg on the Havel is adorned with reliefs similar 
to those already described. In the first scene a 
fox as friar is reading scripture-lessons to some 
geese ; in the second he is preaching to them from 
a pulpit, but before the sermon is ended rushes into 
•the devout flock and seizes a plump auditress by 
the neck. Then follows the trial, with geese as 
witnesses, the judge sitting on a chair and an exe- 
cutioner at his side with a drawn sword ; finally 
the culprit makes confession and saves his life. 
Among the sculptures, all of which are seriously 
injured, is one of a man fighting a basilisk with 
a venom-repelling cone of crystal as described in 
the Physiologus. 

The cornice of the cathedral of Paderbom is 
decorated with delineations of scenes from the 
fables. In the first, the fox and the crane are dining 
together, the latter eating with relish out of a tall 
and narrow-necked vase in which the food is con- 
tained, while the former must be content with what 
can be got by licking the outside of the vessel ; in 
the second, a crane is extracting a bone from the 
throat of a fox, doubtless in this connection simply 
a representation of the incident described in the 
fable, without any reference to the symbolism of 
saving souls from the jaws of hell, as is elsewhere 
the case. Thirdly, an old woman sitting on a 
bench and spinning strikes with her distaff an ape, 
which is trying to steal a dish of food. Finally, 
there are sculptures of a frog and a swan, whose 

238 Animal Symbolism 

aquatic habits may have some relation to the re- 
viving and transforming virtue of the baptismal 
rite and the waters of salvation. Perhaps the 
change of the batrachian from tadpole to- frog may 
furnish the basis of this symbolism of regeneration. 
In the Egyptian Museum at Turin is a lamp of 
terra-cotta in the shape of a frog, with the inscrip- 
tion Eri2 EIMI ANATACIC : " I am the resurrec- 
tion." The Vedic poet Vasishtha {Rigveda, vii. 103) 
invokes the frogs as deities, and compares their 
croaking to the chanting of Brahmans, who are 
performing sacrificial rites, and praying to the 
cloud-compelling Parjanya for rain in time of 
drought. The frog that lows like a cow, and bleats 
like a goat, the speckled and the green frog are 
entreated jointly and severally to refresh and en- 
rich and renew the earth. In the Liber de Hari- 
sibus (xi.) of Philaster, Bishop of Brescia, the frog- 
worshippers (rajtarum cultores) are mentioned as 
an heretical Christian sect ; and a law of the year 
428 forbade Arians, Macedonians, and Batrachi- 
tians to reside within the limits of the Roman 
Empire. It may have been due to this tendency 
to worship frogs that their entrails were used as 
charms in ancient times ( Juvenal, iii. 44), and pre- 
scribed as a potent medicament by mediaeval 
quacksalvers. Although the swan is not men- 
tioned in the Physiologus, the melancholy musical 
tones which it is supposed to utter when dying, 
and especially after having been mortally wounded, 
are often compared by early Christian poets to 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 239 

the last utterances of the crucified Saviour and the 
sweet resignation of the blessed martyrs. This 
figurative application of the fabled characteristic 
of the bird would account for its presence in eccle- 
siastical architecture. 

In the window-frame of an outside corridor of 
the same church are three hares hewn in stone, and 
having altogether only three ears, but so arranged 
that each hare seems to have two ears. This 
sculpture may have symbolized originally the 
doctrine of the Trinity, but in the present instance 
has no religious significance, since it was placed 
there probably as a votive offering by the travelling 
handicraftsmen of Paderborn as the badge or en- 
sign of their guild. In the cloister of the Fran- 
ciscan nuns at Muotta, in Switzerland, is a wood- 
carving of three hares similarly arranged ; in this 
case it was doubtless intended to be an emblem of 

In the parish church of Kempen on the Rhine 
the misericords are adorned with nearly thirty 

Carvings on Stalls in Parish Church of Kempen. 

carvings illustrating fables and proverbs. Here 
we have not only the crane eating out of a tall and 

240 Animal Symbolism 

slender vessel, as at Paderbom, but also the counter- 
plot of the fox who turns the tables on the crane 
by inviting the latter to dinner and serving the 
food as thin soup in a shallow dish, from which he 
easily and eagerly laps it up, while his long-billed 
guest gets scarcely a drop. A man threshing eggs 
with a flail would be interpreted in general as an 
example of energy misapplied ; but in this case it 
has a special censorious significance not commonly 
understood. It was one of the privileges of the 

Carvings on Stalls in Parish Church of Kempen. 

clergy to collect eggs from parishioners during 
Lent, and the exercise of this right was popularly 
known as Eierdrescken (egg-threshing), owing to 
the diligence and zeal with which these ovarious 
contributions were levied. The man beating eggs 
with a flail satirizes this odious exaction, and is 
carved on the stalls of many churches in the Rhine- 
lands, as, for example, at Calcar, Cleves, and Em- 
merich.^ Other carvings at Kempen refer to the 

' In connection with this form of tribute it may be mentioned 
as a parody on trial by ordeal, that if any person's contri- 
bution amounted to half an egg and he refused to give a 
whole one, it was customary to lay the egg on the threshold of 
the house and strike it in two with a knife ; if the yolk flowed 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 241 

same custom, and are evidently intended to deride 
the egg-hunting parson ; such as a man holding an 
egg up to the light to see if it is fresh, a man feel- 
ing of a hen in order to ascertain the prospect of 
eggs, so as not to be deceived by any excusatory 

Carvings on Stalls in Parish Church of Kempen. 

plea of the peasant that the hens don't lay, a man 
sitting on eggs to hatch them, and a man weeping 
over a basket full of eggs fallen to the ground. 
Of the other representations, more or less sarcastic 

Carvings on Stalls in Parish Church of Kempen. 

in their purpose, are a fisherman drawing an eel-pot 
out of the water ; another hauling in a net ; a fox 
preaching to fowls, while a cowled confederate lies 

towards the house, the tributary was declared to be free, but 
if it flowed outwards, he was condemned to pay a fine. 



Animal Symbolism 

in wait for them behind the pulpit ; two dogs fight- 
ing over a bone ; a fox swimming after ducks in a 
pond ; an ass kneeling with a pack on its back and 
a rosary in its mouth ; a man casting daisies before 
swine {margaritas ante porcos), a confusion of the 

Carvings on Stalls in Parish Church of Kempen. 

pearl (margarite) with the flower (marguerite) ; an 
ass playing the lyre {asinus ad lyram) ; a pig play- 
ing the bagpipe ; a fox confessing a bird, as it is 
usually explained, but more probably a delineation 

Carvings on Stalls in Parish Church of Kempen. 

of the incident related in the Roman de Renart, in 
which Hubert the kite officiates as confessor to 
Reynard and is suddenly seized and eaten by the 
crafty confessant ; a bear getting honey out of a 
hive ; a cat sitting near a bell, to which a strap is 
attached, and surrounded by four mice, who are 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 24J 

evidently trying to devise the best means of putting 
it round her neck. Ernst aus'm Weerth thinks the 
cat rings the bell to entice the mice, perhaps to a 
supper, " not where they eat, but where they are 
eaten," as Hamlet would say ; this interpretation is 
far-fetched and absurd ; the intention of the artist 
was simply to illustrate the phrase " to bell the cat." 
The ass with a rosary is also carved on a stall in 
the Minorite cloister of Cleves, and dates from the 
year 1474; it was designed to throw ridicule on 
the Dominicans, whose founder, in the second 
decade of the thirteenth century, introduced the 
rosary as a means of keeping a proper tale of 
prayers, and who were held in derision on this 
account, especially by their rivals the Franciscans. 
The idea of performing devotions by counting beads 
was not original with Domingo de Guzman, but was 
borrowed from the Mohammedans. The pack is 
the heavy burden of sin, which the new and im- 
proved system of supplication by machinery is 
expected to lighten. At Kempen there are also 
carvings of a man shearing swine, great cry and 
little wool, a general illustration of the proverb, and 
perhaps a special satire on preaching friars ; a mer- 
maid with comb and mirror, probably the German 
siren of the Lorelei ; a pig putting on trousers ; an 
ape carrying a young donkey in a dosser, or maybe 
one of her own young, although the creature in the 
pannier has a decidedly asinine look; an owl view- 
ing its face in a mirror, a rebus of the typical medi- 
aeval wag Tyll Eulenspiegel ; a pelican feeding her 

244 Animal Symbolism 

brood with her blood, and other more common or 
less striking delineations, all of which are remark- 
able for their fidelity to nature, and show in the 
main, a wonderful degree of technical skill in their 
execution. This realistic and individualizing tend- 
ency reveals itself in the care and exactness with 
which the minutest characteristics are observed and 
reproduced. They are the works of the Flemish 
school of wood-carving, which flourished during the 
fifteenth century at many places in the Rhinelands, 
and especially at Calcar. 

As has been already stated, the same subjects 
with some additions and 
slight variations are treat- 
ed in St. Martin's Church 
at Emmerich, in the church 
of St. Nicholas at Calcar, 
and in the Minorite clois- 

Jolly Friar and Tinker. ter of CleVCS, althoUgh the 

{Minorite Cloister in Cleves.) . . _ . . 

carvmgs are inferior m 
artistic execution to those of Kempen. At 
Cleves are also representations of a man riding 
backwards on a pig ; a man stroking a cat ; two 
mendicant monks, one holding a fire-pot and the 
other a bellows ; the same monks fighting ; a friar 
and a tinker having a jollification together ; and a 
cloven-hoofed animal reading a breviary and sup- 
posed to be the devil ; unfortunately for this inter- 
pretation the German devil is not cloven-footed, 
but solipedous, having a hoof like that of a horse. 
The creature is evidently meant to be a stag, which 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 245 

in the beast-epos discharges the grave functions of 
an ecclesiastic. At Calcar the hare plays the bag- 
pipe, and on the back of one of the stalls reclines 
a queer man-monster with the breasts of a woman, 
the feet of a goat, fins on his legs, faces on his 
shoulders and knees, and eyes in his hips, read- 
ing a book. At Emmerich a goat nibbling a grape 
vine exemplifies the fable of the goat as gardener, 
and a man sitting between two stools illustrates 
the vice of indecision and the danger of playing 
fast and loose with principles. 

It may be added, in concluding this portion of 
the subject, that the church edifices of the Nether- 
lands were formerly richly adorned with paintings 
and sculptures of a symbolical, satirical, and didactic 
character, but that they have been nearly all 
destroyed. The work of demolition, begun by 
Catholic iconoclasts, was continued by Calvinistic 
reformers, and completed by French radicals and 



Universality of the symbolism of the cross — Cruciform 
phenomena in nature — The sign of the cross in the Old 
Testament, and its prefigurative significance — Wonder- 
working power of the cross in Jewish history — Its 
presence in the Garden of Eden and in the Hebrew 
alphabet — The cosmos has the form of a cross — Influence 
of the doctrine of the Trinity upon art — Trinitarian 
suggestions in the material creation — Mystic meanings 
in sacred architecture — Symbolism of bells and signifi- 
cance of orientation — Superstitious regard for the points 
of the compass — Transition from christolatry to hagiolatry 
— Subtilities of ecclesiology — Meagreness of Hebrew 
mythology — Exercise of the mythopoeic faculty by the 
Rabbis — Early Christian opposition to the theatre — 
Theatrical rites and indecent amusements in churches 
and cloisters — Feast of Fools, etc. — Analogy between the 
anatomy of the ass and the architecture of a cathedral 
— Jewish and Christian reverence for the ass — Feast of 
the Ass — Symbolism swallowed up in buffoonery — Traffic 
in holy relics — Satirized in Heywood's play of The Four 
P.P. — Anatomical peculiarities of saints — Queer freaks 
in sacred osteology — Specimens of relics in Catholic 
churches — Miraculous power of self-multiplication — 
Choice collection of Frederic the Wise — Anti-Semitic 
sculptures in Christian churches — Coarse relief ridiculing 
the Jews at Wittenberg, and its interpretation by Luther 
— Similar carvings in other cities — Decrees of John the 
Good and Frederic the Hohenstaufe concerning usury 
— Classical myths in Christian art — Orpheus a prototype 

Animal Symbolism 247 

of Christ — Bacchus and the Lord's vineyard — Greek 
comic poets adored as Christian saints — Isis as the 
Virgin Mary— Crude symbolism of early Christian art — 
Influence of Pagan antiquity— The peacock as a Christian 
emblem — Moralization of the myth of A^gus and lo — 
Sirens and centaurs in architecture — The Sigurd Saga 
— Weighing of souls — Recording angels and devils — 
Woman as an emissary of Satan — The devil in Christian 
art — Dance of death — Oldest representation of it — Its 
democratic character and popularity — Manuscripts with 
miniatures — Holbein's drawings — Sensational sermons 
of Honord de Sainte Marie — Modem delineations of the 
theme by Rethel, Seitz, Luhrig, and others. 

As the cross was the symbol of human redemption, 
and the whole creation since the Fall was supposed 
to have been groaning and travailing together in 
longing for the advent of the Messiah and the 
consummation of the Atonement, the Fathers of 
the Church and the later defendants of the faith, 
Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Jerome, Origen, Jacobus 
de Voragine, and Hrabanus Maurus, imagined they 
discovered cruciform and cruciferous phenomena 
everywhere in animate and inanimate nature, and 
laid great stress upon this fancy as an incontestable 
proof of the divine origin of Christianity. Further- 
more, as the Jewish people was the special channel 
through which this salvation was to be received, 
the literary and historical records of the Jews were 
assumed to be full of allusions to the cross, and 
their religious rites were interpreted as having no 
purpose or validity except as prophecies and pre- 
figurations of it. We are told that man was created 
in the form of a cross, a curious and characteristic 
example of what logicians call hysteron-proteron, 

248 Animal Symbolism 

or what in common parlance is said to be putting 
the cart before the horse, since the cross took this 
shape because, as an instrument of human punish- 
ment and torture, it was made to fit the man. 
Again, as a primitive physico-psychology resolved 
man into seven elements, four of the body and 
three of the soul, so the cross is composed of four 
notches and three pieces of wood. Three multiplied 
by four makes twelve, and this number corresponds 
to the sum of the commandments of the Old (ten) 
and New (two) Testaments. Four and three form 
respectively the basis of the quadrivium and the 
trivium, which together constitute the seven liberal 
arts, and comprise the whole cycle of human 
knowledge. The cross was made of wood, because 
it was through a tree that man fell, and by a tree 
he must be raised up and redeemed. Indeed some 
typologists are sufficiently strenuous to maintain 
that the cross was originally a tree in the Garden 
of Eden, where it grew in the form of the Hebrew 
letter Tau (T), that Adam and Eve hid themselves 
behind it, after they had sinned and when they 
heard the voice of God, and that the blood of the 
murdered Abel cried out from under it, thus 
prefiguring the expiatory blood of Christ. It was 
a branch of this tree that Moses cast into the 
waters of Marah to make them sweet, and the great 
lawgiver's wonder-working wand was a piece of 
the same wood. The world itself is constructed in 
the shape of a cross, whose four points correspond 
to the four cardinal points or intersections of the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 249 

horizon with the meridian. Birds cannot rise in 
the air and fly unless their wings are extended in 
the form of a cross; men assume this attitude in 
prayer and in swimming ; a ship cannot sail with- 
out making the sign of the cross with the mast 
and the yard-arms ; and the spade with which man 
tills the ground, toiling in the sweat of his brow as 
the penalty of his transgression, is cruciform. A 
poet and divine of the seventeenth century has put 
these forced conceits into a verse quite worthy of 
the theme — 

" Who can blot out the cross, which th' instrument 
Of God dewed on me in the sacrament ? 
Who can deny me power and liberty 
To stretch mine arms, and mine own cross to be ? 
Swim, arid at every stroke thou art thy cross ! 
The mast and yard make one when seas do toss. 
Look down, thou spy'st ever crosses in small things; 
Look up, thou seest birds raised on crossed wings. 
All the globe's frame and sphere is nothing else 
But the meridian's crossing parallels." 

In the twelfth chapter of the Epistle of Barnabas, 
the act of Moses in stretching out his hands, in 
order that Israel might overcome Amalek in battle, 
is said to signify the power of the cross. The 
same interpretation is given to the words of Isaiah : 
" I have spread out my hands all the day unto 
a rebellious people," which mystic christology 
explains as the rejection of the crucified Saviour 
by the Jews. The youthful David prevailed over 
Goliath because he had a cross-shaped staff in his 
hand, to which alone he owed his victory. The 

250 Animal Symbolism 

two sticks which the widow of Zarephath gathered 
to cook a cake with, she held in the form of a 
cross, and it was the wonder-working virtue of this 
sign that caused the barrel of meal to waste not, 
and the cruse of oil not to fail ; afterwards the 
prophet Elijah restored her son to life by stretching 
himself three times upon the child in the form of 
a cross and in adoration of the Trinity. The 
faggot which Isaac bore on his shoulders to the 
place of sacrifice took the same shape, and it was 
for this reason that God sent an angel to arrest 
the hand of Abraham, and accepted a ram for a 
burnt-offering instead of his son. That the brazen 
serpent which Moses put upon a pole prefigured 
the Crucifixion is not a matter of the slightest 
doubt, even to the most enlightened orthodox 
hermeneutician of the present day. St. Jerome 
was so sure of this that he did not scruple to 
translate "in cruce" the phrase which means 
simply "upon a pole," and is so rendered in the 
Septuagint (ev boK&); and an eminent American 
divine recently declared that the efficacy of the 
brazen serpent in healing the children of Israel 
was due solely to its typical connection with the 
atoning death of Christ. The fact that Tau, the 
imaginary symbol of the cross, is the last letter of 
the Hebrew alphabet, was adduced as conclusive 
proof that Judaism, in reality the most intensely 
tribal of all religions, and reflecting more fully 
than any other the life and character of the race 
that originated it, existed merely as a system of 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 251 

shadowy types, having for its whole end and aim 
the gospel of the cross.^ The same sort of reason- 
ing has discovered a profound significance in the 
accidental resemblance of the Roman numeral X 
to St. Andrew's cross {crux decussatd), which must 
therefore bear some mystic relation to the decalogue. 
The pascha, according to Justin Martyr, was a 
symbolic adumbration of the Crucifixion. "For 
the lamb which was roasted was so placed as to 
resemble the figure of a cross ; with one spit it 
was pierced longitudinally, from the tail to the 
head ; with another it was transfixed through the 
shoulders, so that the fore legs became extended." 
However natural it may have been for Paul, as a 
Jew, to speak of Christ metaphorically as " our 
Passover," it is little creditable to the critical 
acumen and logical perception of later theologians 
that they should have taken this figure of speech 
literally, and reared an imposing christological 
superstructure on the unsubstantial basis of a 
trope. The smearing of the door-posts with blood 
in the celebration of the Jewish feast, says Justin 
Martyr, has direct reference to the death of the 
Redeemer, "because the Greek word to smear, 
XpCea-dai, and the word Christ are the same." As 
smearing is only another term for anointing, and 
Christ means anointed, and is the Greek synonym 

* " Unde non inconvenienter reor quod sicut omnium 
elementorum finis est, ita totidem librorum veteris Testa- 
ment! finis est crux." — Paschasius Radbert, In Lam. Jer. 
Bibl. Patrum, xiv. 773. 

252 Animal Symbolism 

of the Hebrew Messiah {mdshiah), there is nothing 
very startling in such an etymological coincidence. 

Before the twelfth century Christ was represented 
as fastened to the cross with four nails, one in each 
hand and foot ; but out of deference to the doctrine 
of the Trinity it was deemed necessary to use only 
three nails ; the feet were therefore made to rest 
upon a wooden support, held to the upright beam 
by a single nail. Soon afterwards the simpler 
method was devised of placing one foot upon the 
other with a spike driven through both of them. 
Cimabue was the first to adopt this mode of 
arranging the feet in painting ; and it was in the 
twentieth year of his age that the celebration of 
the Feast of the Holy Trinity in the Romish 
Church was authorized and enjoined by the Synod 
of Aries (1260). This is but one example of the 
far-reaching and permanent influence of ecclesi- 
astical decrees and the promulgation of dogmas 
upon art. 

The legends of the Holy Rood surpass in ex- 
travagance and absurdity all that pagan Germans 
ever fabled of the sacred ash Yggdrasil, or Brah- 
mans of their sacrificial post, the Yupa, or Buddhists 
of the B6dhitree. With what persistence and 
apparent pleasure the theological mind still continues 
to run in this old and abandoned rut, is startlingly 
and depressingly revealed in a paper on " Vestiges 
of the Blessed Trinity in the Material Creation," 
published in The Dublin Review for January 1893 
by the Rev. John S. Vaughan, who finds traces of 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 253 

this doctrine " written large across the whole face 
of nature," and everywhere suggested by " such 
familiar things as rocks, mountains, seas, and 
lakes." He discovers " the mystery of the Trinity " 
in the fact that every object has three dimensions, 
that a plant is composed of seed, stalk, and flower ; 
that life is " vegetative, sensitive, and rational " ; 
that matter is solid, fluid, and gaseous ; that time is 
past, present, and future ; and above all, that there 
are " three fundamental colours," which " dissolve 
in the unity of white light." Red, he says, is the 
caloric ray, and corresponds to the Father, the 
source of vital warmth and energy ; the yellow is 
the luminous ray, and corresponds to the Son, 
" the Light of the world " ; the blue is the chemical 
or actinic ray, and corresponds to the Holy Spirit. 
If cucumbers or melons, he adds, be placed under 
glass absorbing the blue ray, they will grow rapidly 
and put forth luxuriant blossoms, but soon fade 
away without bearing fruit, and this phenomenon 
he calls "a physical reflection of the Christian 
precept, ' Quench not the Spirit.' " Only an in- 
tellect that had been wont to feed upon the husks 
of hermeneutic theology, to the exclusion of all 
wholesomer nutriment, could conceive of such 
twaddle, and offer it to an enlightened public as 
an argument from analogy. The wonder is that 
he did not go more deeply into the exact and 
natural sciences, and make the triangle, the trefoil, 
and the trilobite a three-fold confirmation of Trini- 
tarianism. The investigator who puts Nature to 

254 Animal Symbolism 

the rack, and questions her like an inquisitor with 
the boot and the thumbkin, can easily extort from 
her a confession of the truth of any whimsey he 
may choose to entertain. 

William Durand, in his Rationale Divinorum 
Officiorum, printed in 14S9 by Gutenberg and Fust 
at Mayence, makes every portion of the church 
edifice full of symbolic significance. The erudite 
and ingenious ecclesiologist gives free rein to his 
fancy, and discovers mystic meanings in the struc- 
ture, of which the architect had not the faintest 
presentiment. The latter seems, therefore, to have 
"builded better than he knew," and to have put 
unconsciously into his work more things than he 
ever dreamed of in draughting his designs, just as 
the great poets, Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe, 
have embodied in their writings many deep 
thoughts of which they themselves were utterly 
ignorant, and which would have been wholly lost to 
the world if some learned and acute commentator 
had not taken pains to point them out. Thus, 
according to Durand, the stones represent the 
faithful ; the lime, which binds the stones together, 
is fervent love and charity; its mixture with sand 
refers to " actions performed for the temporal good 
of our brethren " ; the water, that serves to mix the 
lime and sand, is an emblem of the Holy Spirit; 
and "as stones cannot adhere without mortar, so 
man without charity cannot enter as an element 
into the construction of the heavenly Jerusalem." 

Also bells, being made of brass, are shriller and 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 255 

louder than the trumpets of the law, and denote 
that God, who under the old dispensation was 
known only to the Jews, is now proclaimed to the 
whole world ; the durable material out of which 
they are formed indicates that the truths of the 
Gospel are not to be superseded, but will endure 
to the end of time ; the hardness of this material 
signifies the fortitude of the Christian apostle, to 
whom it is said : " I have given thee a forehead 
more hard than their forehead." Paul's assertion : 
" I am become as sounding brass," proves that the 
bell typifies the mouth of the preacher, whose 
tongue, like that of the bell, strikes both sides, 
expounding and proclaiming both Testaments ; it 
shows also that the preacher should, on one side, 
correct vice in himself, and, on the other side, re- 
prove it in his hearers. The wooden frame on 
which the bell is suspended stands for the cross; 
the iron fastening it to the wood is the binding 
force of moral duty, which is inseparable from the 
cross. The wheel by which the bell is rung is the 
preacher's mind, through which the knowledge of 
the divine law passes into the understanding of the 
people ; and the three cords or strands of the bell- 
rope denote the threefold character of Scripture, 
consisting of history, allegory, and morality. As 
the rope descends from the wooden trestle to the 
hand, so the mystery of the cross descends to the 
hand and produces good works ; while the upward 
and downward motion of the rope shows that 
Scripture speaks of high things and low things, or, 

256 Animal Symbolism 

in other words, is to be interpreted literally and 

Curiously enough, there are still educated persons 
who earnestly pursue researches and fondly indulge 
in speculations of this sort, and seem to be edified 
thereby. In a book on Symbolisms in the Churches 
of the Middle Ages, written by J. Mason Neable 
and Benjamin Webb, and translated into French 
with an introduction by the Abbe Bourassde 
(Tours, 1857), the authors, as staunch Catholics, re- 
gard the use of the ogive in Protestant churches as 
a desecration of this symbol of the Holy Trinity. 
No Catholic architect, they declare, should design 
a triple window for a dissenting or heretical sect 
(including the Established Church of England), or 
introduce the trefoil into such building, since this 
use of them would be a " sacrilegious prostitution 
of sacred architecture, which is the voice of the 
Church." The only wonder is, from this point of 
view, that the Creator should permit clover and 
other trifoliate plants to grow in Protestant ceme- 
teries or tricuspid molars in a heretic's mouth, and 
that an angry and outraged Deity does not strike 
the impious Unitarian dead who dares to sit on 
a three-legged stool, or presumes to steep his tea on 
a tripod. 

Touching the signification of orientation in ec- 
clesiastical architecture, Gregory the Great, in his 
exposition of Ezekiel xl. 6, says the east gate of 
the temple in the prophet's vision designates Jesus 
Christ. "Who else can be meant by this gate 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 257 

but our Lord and Redeemer, who is to us the gate 
of heaven, as it is written, ' No man cometh unto 
the Father but by Me'; and again, 'He that 
entereth not in by the door . . . the same is a 
thief and a robber ' ; and then soon afterwards, ' I 
am the door.' He it is of whom Zechariah said, 
' Behold the man, whose name is the East.' 1 The 
gate looking toward the East refers, therefore, 
to Him who has shown us the way to the source of 
light." One cannot but admire the cogency of the 
illustrious pope's reasoning, and the peculiar perti- 
nence of his scriptural citations. 

According to the Talmud, the manifestations of 
God are revealed in the West in distinction from 
the East, toward which the heathen and the heretics 
(Essenes) turn their faces in their devotions. 
Patristic superstition, on the contrary, looked upon 
the West as the seat of darkness, and the abode of 
demons; for this reason, the rose-window was 
placed high up in the western wall of the church, 
as the light of the Gospel that is thus made visible 
to those sitting in darkness, and "turneth the 
shadow of death into the morning." ^ The towers 
at the western end of the edifice, with their 
bells, were intended to terrify and discomfit the 
demons, and, at the same time, to summon the 

' The passage (Zech. vi. 12) reads in the Vulgate : "Ecce 
vir, oriens nomen ejus." In the original, the word here 
translated "oriens" means "springing up," and in our 
English version is rendered "the Branch." 

* Cf. Lactantius, Divin. Instit., ii. 10 ; Hieronym, In Amos 
and In Ezech. 


258 Animal Symbolism 

nations to Christ, who in the earliest churches 
was seated over the western entrance to receive 
them. After the twelfth century, when the dread 
of the last judgment, which it was supposed 
would take place at the end of the eleventh 
century and introduce the millennium, had com- 
pletely passed away, the space above the door- 
way was usually occupied by the image of the 
saint to whom the church was dedicated, thus 
marking a transition from christolatry to hagi- 
olatry. The sculptures of the doorway plane, 
and the paintings of the Catharine-wheel windows, 
very frequently represented the revolt of the 
angels, as may be seen in Freiburg Minster, and 
in the cathedral of St. John in Lyons. The 
North is the region of meteorological devils, 
which, under the dominion and leadership of the 
" Prince of the power of the air," produce storms 
and convulsions in nature, and foster unruly 
passions and deeds of violence in man. The evil 
principle, as embodied in unclean beasts and 
exhibited in obscene and lascivious actions, was 
properly portrayed in the sculptures and paintings 
on the north side of the church, which was assigned 
to Satan and his satellites, and known as "the 
black side." On the other hand, the South shared 
the sacred character of the East, and was con- 
secrated to saints and martyrs and the famous 
doctors of theology and sturdy defenders of the 
faith. On the walls and in the windows toward 
the south are depicted the triumphs of Christianity, 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 259 

the millennial reign of Christ, the worship of the 
Lamb, and similar scenes. Does not the prophet 
Habakkuk say that God came from Teman, and 
does not Teman mean South ? What more con- 
clusive proof could any rational and not utterly 
carnal mind desire ? 

In the first half of the fifth century, Eucherius, 
Bishop of Lyons, wrote a book of formulas of 
spiritual knowledge {Liber Formularum Spiritualis 
Intelligenticz), modelled after the Clavis of Melito, 
in which this symbolism of the points of the com- 
pass is elaborately amplified and explained. The 
south signifies the " fervour of faith "; " the 
streams in the south," spoken of by the Psalmist 
(cxxvi. 4), refer to the effluence of the Holy Spirit ; 
the ardently erotic and highly poetic passage in 
Solomon's Song (iv. 16), "Awake, O north wind; 
and come, thou south," is interpreted as equivalent 
to the words, " Get thee behind me, Satan ; and 
draw near to me, O divine Spirit." 

Durcmd finds some esoteric meaning, known^ 
only to ecclesiologists, in every part and proportion 
of the sacred structure. " Its length indicates 
long-suffering, which patiently endures adversity 
and affliction, waiting to reach the heavenly home. 
Its breadth is the largeness of Christian charity, 
which embraces friends and foes. Its height is 
the measure of the lofty hope of eternal happiness." 
Every joist and buttress, every stone and timber 
from the crypt to the corona of the cornice, every 
arch and pinnacle, the lantern of the dome, and the 

26o Animal Symbolism 

weather-cock on the steeple, is made to yield some 
mystic quality, or convey some moral lesson. 
" The panes of the windows," according to Claude 
Villette {Raisons de l' Office, Paris, 1601), " are the 
Scriptures, which communicate the light of truth 
coming from above and ward off the wind, snow, 
and hail of heresies, false doctrines, and schisms, 
sent by the father of lies. The frames, in which 
the panes of glass are firmly set, signify the 
(Ecumenical Councils by which the Scriptures are 
interpreted and upheld, and the doctrines they 
teach made manifest. The size of the windows 
shows the depth and magnitude of Holy Writ, 
incomprehensible to the natural man ; their circular 
form denotes that the Church is complete in herself, 
and consistent in all her doctrines." 

Such are a few specimens of the subtilties and 
trivialities of mediaeval and modem symbologists, 
which suffice to illustrate the general tendency of 
their speculations, and the excess of abstrusity 
and absurdity to which they carried their queer 

Hebrew literature has only a very meagre 
mythology, compared with the literature of India 
or Greece or any ancient people of Aryan blood. 
The jealously vindictive and supreme ascendency 
of the Jewish tribal god did not favour the growth 
and exercise of the mythopceic faculty, but made 
every attempt to foster it fatal alike to the safety 
and comfort of the individual, and to the consoli- 
dation and continuity of the national life. But the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 261 

Hebrew imagination, although debarred from the 
populous regions of Olympus and Tartarus by the 
stern command of Jehovah, " Thou shalt have no 
other gods before Me," would not be cheated of its 
rights, and mythologized in less inviting but un- 
forbidden directions, grazing and ruminating on 
the stubbled fields of scholia, and getting what 
nutriment could be extracted from such dry and 
sapless fodder. In this wise, the Rabbis succeeded 
in evolving a whole system of myths and fables 
out of their sacred books and ceremonial institu- 
tions. Noah's dove, which returned to the ark 
with an olive branch, had received it, according to 
the Talmudists, from the hand of God ; and out of 
this assumption was developed a most luxuriant 
and wide-spreading banyan forest of allegory. 
The Sabbath was also personified and made to 
appear before the seat of God, like Schiller's poet 
before the throne of Zeus, and to complain of its 
isolation in being set apart as a holy day, Jehovah 
regretted that he could not change this condition 
of things without destroying the consecrated cha- 
racter of the seventh day, but he conferred upon it, 
in compensation for its lone^ness, the privilege of 
being for ever united with the chosen people in 
nuptial ties, and of fostering as the fruit of this 
union the so-called Sabbath-soul of Israel. And 
the Lord blessed this marriage, and declared it to 
be sacred and indissoluble, and absolutely essential 
to the happiness and prosperity of the Jewish 
nation. When the Roman government forbade 

262 Animal Symbolism 

the observance of the Sabbath by severe penalties, 
Rabbi Simon Ben Jochai went to Rome and suc- 
ceeded in having the prohibition removed, using 
this fable in his interview with the emperor in 
order to enforce the claims of the Sabbath as a 
divine institution, indispensable to the welfare of 
Israel. There is an apologue by Rabbi Jehuda 
Bar Shalom, in which the rite of circumcision is the 
chief actor, and the Sabbath plays a subordinate 
and less commendable part, being too much given 
up to convivial pleasures. 

The Rabbis mythologized even with the letters of 
the alphabet, all of which, from Aleph to Tau, 
appear in person before Jehovah to present their 
respective claims to consideration, and indulge 
in the most wearisome and nonsensical harangues. 
This sort of apologue arose from the peculiar 
sacredness attached to the text of the law orThora, 
which was identified with the wisdom personified 
in the eighth chapter of Proverbs, and with the 
uncreated Word, which was with God before the 
creation of the world, and afterwards became the 
incarnate Logos of the Gnostics and the synonym 
of Christ.1 

This superstitious reverence for the letter of the 
law was transmitted to the early Christians, who 
naturally applied it to their own sacred records, 
declaring them to be theopneustic, or " given by 

* Cf. Die Fabelim Talmud und Midrasch, von Dr. Samuel 
Back, in Monatsschri/t fur Geschichte und Wissenschaft des 
Judenthums. Krotoschin, 1 880-8 1. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 263 

inspiration of God." Out of this feeling, dogmatic 
theology easily developed the doctrine of plenary 
inspiration, which the Reformers and later Pro- 
testants used as an effective weapon, opposing the 
infallible authority of Holy Writ to the infallible 
authority of the Holy See, and which was finally 
carried to that extreme of fetichistic bibliolatry 
that has been such a serious obstacle to the spread 
of knowledge and to the progress' of the race, and 
is now just beginning to be set aside by scientific 
research and sound criticism. 

At the beginning of the Christian era the theatre 
had fallen into decay, and hardly anything re- 
mained of it except the brutal butcheries of the 
amphitheatre, and the noisy and turbulent diver- 
sions of the circus. It was natural enough that 
the early Christians should have detested and de- 
nounced such performances. Actors as a class were 
anathematized and declared accursed by ecclesi- 
astical authorities. A capitulary of Charlemagne, 
inspired and dictated by the Church, declared all 
players {histriones) to be infamous and incompetent 
to testify in courts of justice. The Provincial 
Councils of Mayence, Tours, and Chalons in 813 
decreed the histrionic profession ignominious, and 
excommunicated all clergymen who countenanced 
theatrical representations. In 1186, Philippe 
Auguste issued an edict banishing actors from his 

But the passion for the theatre is too deeply 
rooted in human nature to be easily eradicated; 

264 Animal Symbolism 

and the Church, finding all efforts to suppress it 
unavailing, determined to direct and utilize it. 
Accordingly theatrical elements were introduced 
into the celebration of Christian festivals, which 
were mostly of pagan origin. The old Roman 
Lupercalia became the feast of the Purification ; 
the Saturnalia "Survived in the Carnival ; the Robi- 
galia, consisting of offerings in the fields to the 
god Robigus (or according to Ovid, Fast., iv. 905-35, 
the goddess Robigo) to avert mildew, gave rise to 
the processions of Rogation week ; the pagan feast 
of the dead is celebrated as All Souls' Day ; and 
St. John's Day and Christmas are relics of sol- 
stitial worship and fulfilments of the Baptist's 
prophecy : " He must increase, but I must decrease." 
At a very early period the Church began to 
invest her solemn rites with a theatrical character. 
At Christmas, children robed as angels sang songs 
in differents parts of the sacred edifice above the 
choir, a group of shepherds passed through the 
transept towards a stable built behind the altar, 
and were met by two priests costumed as midwives, 
who inquired: "What seek ye.?" The shepherds 
replied : " Our Saviour, the Christ." " The child 
is here," was the response, and all knelt before the 
crib in the presence of the mother, and chanted the 
Salve Virgo. On the feast of the Epiphany the 
three kings entered through the chief portal and 
advanced in gorgeous array to the place where the 
infant lay and worshipped Him, presenting their 
gifts. They then went out through the door of 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 265 

the transept in accordance with the statement that 
the wise men "departed into their own country 
another way." Priests in albs mounted up on 
towers to represent the Ascension ; and at Pentecost 
a dove descended from the arched ceiling of the 
church to denote the Holy Spirit coming down 
from heaven. On Palm Sunday an immense crowd 
of people approached the city from the country, 
strewing branches in the way of a man riding on 
an ass; as the procession drew near, the priests 
and choristers sang : " Lift up your heads, O ye 

Such are a few examples of the childish and 
clumsy manner in which the Church sought to 
render her ceremonies more vivid and impressive 
as well as more entertaining. This rude dramatiz- 
ation of the principal incidents of the Gospel story 
was gradually extended to religious legends, thus 
giving rise to semi-liturgic mysteries, miracle-plays, 
and moralities, and leading to a revival of the 
secular drama. The clergy encouraged hilarity 
and gaiety, -because they wished to attract the 
vulgar throng, and to keep their hold on the 
masses by providing for their amusement. In this 
desire originated such festivals as the Feast of 
Fools and of Innocents, and the Ass's Feast. 

At Rouen at Christmas, twelve of the clergy, 
dressed to represent six Jews and six Gentiles, 
were placed respectively on the right and the left 
of a pyre burning in the centre of the choir. Two 
young priests then call upon them to recognize and 

266 Animal Symbolism 

revere the mystery of the divine Incarnation. They 
refuse to do so, and in order to convince them of 
the truth, the principal personages of the Bible are 
made to appear : Moses with long beard and horns, 
the greater and lesser prophets, Balaam on his ass 
with the messengers of Balak and the angel stand- 
ing in the way, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego 
in the fiery furnace, apostles, sibyls, and Vergil, 
who had foretold the advent of Christ, and many 
other witnesses of the true God. This overwhelm- 
ing testimony admits of no contradiction, and the 
stubborn Jews and ignorant Gentiles are converted 
from the error of their ways. Whether the burning 
pyre was reserved as an ultima ratio in case of 
final obduracy is not stated, but would seem to be 
suggested. These spectacles were first given in 
the nave of the church, but, as the throng increased, 
they were transferred to the open air, and scaffold- 
ings were erected for the purpose in front of the 

In 12 1 2, the Council of Paris forbade the nuns 
to celebrate the Feast of Fools, on account of the 
excesses and scandals which it occasioned. In 
1 24s, Archbishop Odon found it necessary to 
suppress the licentious amusements of the nuns in 
the convents of Rouen, and mentions especially 
their accustomed dissolute sports ("ludibria con- 
sueta "), and their dances either among themselves 
or with secular priests ("aut inter vos seu cum 
secularibus choreas ducendo "). These dances, which 
were performed on the great ecclesiastical feast- 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 267 

days, were accompanied by comical and scurrilous 
songs and other unseemly exhibitions. The chapter 
of the cathedral of Senlis issued in 1497 an order 
permitting the lower clergy to " enjoy their diver- 
sions before the principal portal of the church on 
the eve of the Epiphany, provided they do not sing 
infamous songs, with ribald and obscene words, or 
dance in a lewd manner, all of which things," they 
add, "took place on last Innocents' Day." In an 
old collection of forty sermons on the destruction 
of Nineveh {Sermones quadraginta de destructione 
Ninevce, Paris, 1525), the author asserts that priests 
and monks were wont to visit nunneries both by 
night and by day, and to perform indecent dances 
with the inmates ; " as to the rest," he concludes, 
" I keep silent, lest perchance I may offend pious 

Even within the memory of persons still living, 
the midnight masses, especially in France, were 
attended by all sorts of rude horse-play, such as 
strewing the pavement of the church with " fulmi- 
nating peas," which exploded when trodden upon, 
barricading the aisles with chairs or cords, filling 
the stoups with ink, and embracing young girls in 
" the dim religious light " of the chapels. 

A very queer notion was entertained and in- 
culcated in the middle ages, and seems still to 
prevail in some less enlightened .portions of 
Christendom, that there is a mysterious and far- 
reaching analogy between the anatomy of an 
ass and the architecture of a cathedral. Thus 

268 Animal Symbolism 

M. J^r6me Bugeau, in his Chansons Populaires des 
Provinces de V Quest (Niort, 1866), gives the follow- 
ing catechism taken down from the lips of children 
in Angoumois (ndiw in the department of Charente), 
and evidently forming an important part of their 
religious instruction — 

" Priest. What do the two ears of the ass signify ? 
" Children. The two ears of the ass signify the two 

great patron saints of our city. 
"Priest. What does the head of the ass signify? 
" Children. The head of the ass signifies the great 
bell, and the rein is the clapper of the great 
bell in the tower of the cathedral dedicated 
to the patron saints of our city. 
" Priest. What does the throat of the ass signify .' 
" Children. The throat of the ass signifies the 
chief portal of the cathedral dedicated to the 
patron saints of our city. 
" Priest. What does the body of the ass signify "i 
" Children. The body of the ass signifies the whole 
structure of the cathedral dedicated to the 
patron saints of our city." 
In this style the catechism goes on, showing the 
analogies or rather the homologies between the 
animal and the edifice; the four legs of the ass 
are the four principal pillars of the building ; the 
heart, liver, kidneys, and other internal organs 
are the lamps ; the paunch is the poor-box, in 
which the pious put their offerings ; the skin is the 
cope worn by the clergy during divine service; 
the tail is the aspergill for sprinkling holy water 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 269 

on the people ; even the buttocks are not omitted, 
but stand for " the beautiful stoup, which holds the 
holy water in the cathedral dedicated to the patron 
saints of our city." 

The Angoumois catechism offers a fair specimen 
of the weak and vapid pap with which the youth- 
ful mind is usually fed in clerical schools, and 
especially in those conducted by the Jesuits. The 
late Dr. Dollinger of Munich relates his experience 
with a student, who had received his preparatory 
training at such an institute. In answer to the 
question, " What is that branch of knowledge which 
we call theology .' " the candidate for holy orders 
replied with the perfunctory promptness of a 
parrot : " Theology is that branch of knowledge 
which has St. Catherine for its patroness." "But 
what is the branch of knowledge of which St. 
Catherine is the patroness .' " asked the doctor, and 
received the ready response : " St. Catherine is the 
patroness of theology ; " and no ingenuity of in- 
terrogation availed to get the young man out of 
this vicious hagiological circle. It is by the stupe- 
fying effects of such teaching that the supreme 
goal of Jesuitical discipline, namely, the sacrifice 
of the intellect (" il sacrificio dell' intelletto "), can be 
most perfectly attained. 

It may seem strange that the ass should have 
been chosen as the homologue of the cathedral; 
but it must be remembered that in the Orient this 
animal is noted for its beauty, strength, and in- 
telligence, and that our domestic donkey is the 

270 Animal Symbolism 

degenerate scion of a noble stock. There is also 
reason to believe that this creature was an object 
of peculiar reverence to the early Christians, owing 
probably to the fact that Christ made His triumphal 
entry into Jerusalem sitting upon an ass, and that 
the animal still bears the sign of the cross formed 
by a black bar across the shoulders intersecting the 
line of the back. Plutarch {Sjmpos., lib. iv. 5) 
and Tacitus {Hist., lib. v.) assert that the ass was 
adored by the Jews because it discovered springs 
of water in the desert during the exodus, and this 
tradition might have easily been accepted by the 
Christians as typical of the Saviour, the well-spring 
of eternal life. Tertullian says : " There are some 
who imagine that our God has the head of an ass," 
and indignantly denies the truth of this statement, 
which, nevertheless, seems to have been quite 
generally entertained. Indeed, this ardent and 
eloquent apologist himself declares that the enemies 
of the Gospel exposed publicly a picture, repre- 
senting a person with a book in his hand and 
wearing a long robe, but with the ears and legs of 
an ass, and under it the inscription : " The Christian 
God with the ass's hoof." Again, Cecilius Felix 
remarks in the Dialogue of Minutius Felix: "I 
hear that this basest of creatures is worshipped by 
the Christians, though I know not upon what 
inane persuasion." In a rude drawing scrawled on 
the walls of the barracks or guard-room on the 
Palatine, is a man kneeling before a crucifix, on 
which is a human being with an ass's head, and a 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 271 

legend informs us that this person is " Anaxomenos 
worshipping his God." Epiphanius affirms that the 
Gnostics believed that the Lord of Sabaoth had an 
ass's head.^ 

In the church of Saint-Esprit, a suburb of 
Bayonne, is the wooden effigy of an ass bearing the 
Virgin and the infant Jesus ; the latter is holding a 
bird in His hand. It was originally in the convent 
of St. Bernard, built in the thirteenth century and 
now demolished, and is still known as the ass of St. 
Bernard. One belonged to each of the cathedrals 
of Rheims and Paris ; there is one in Santa Maria 
in Organo at Verona, and formerly nearly every 
church was provided with such an image, of which 
a good specimen is now preserved in the Germanic 
Museum at Nuremberg. It was not an object of 
worship, but was used sometimes instead of the 
living animal in celebrating the Feast of the Ass, 
which took place at Christmas in honour of Christ's 
entry into Jerusalem, and likewise on the fourteenth 
of January, as a memorial of the flight into Egypt, 
and was one of the most popular of Church festivals. 

There is an old tradition that the ass on which 
Christ made His entry into Jerusalem left Judea 
immediately after the Crucifixion, and passing over 
the sea dry-shod to Rhodes, Cyprus, Malta, Sicily, 
and Aquileia, finally reached Verona, where it lived 
to a very old age. After its death its bones were 
collected and deposited in the belly of the wooden 
ass of Santa Maria in Organo, which was made as 
I Cf. Annales ArcMologiques, xv. p. 383. 

272 Animal Symbolism 

a memorial of it and in its exact image. It was 
once a popular belief, which may yet linger among 
the lower class of Veronese, that all the eisses of 
that region are scions of this sacred stock ; but their 
supposed origin does not appear to insure them 
less cruel treatment than low-born donkeys are sub- 
jected to in all parts of Italy. 

An ass caparisoned with a cope and other sacer- 
dotal apparel, and sometimes ridden by a young 
girl with an infant in her arms, was met at the 
principal entrance of the church by the canons and 
other clergy, and conducted up the nave into the 
chancel. The officiating priests held in their hands 
urns or pitchers full of wine, and goblets of glass 
or pewter. The censer contained, instead of the 
usual fragrant gums and spices, fat black-pudding 
and sausage, which in burning exhaled anything 
but a pleasant perfume. The Introit, the Kyrie, the 
Gloria, and the Credo were sung in a harsh braying 
tone, after which the following ass's litany in Latin 
was chanted, the whole body of the clergy and the 
congregation joining vociferously as a chorus in the 
refrain, which was French — 

" Orientis partibus 
Adventavit asinus, 
Pulcher et fortissimus, 
Sarcinis aptissimus. 

Hez, sire asne, car chantez 

Belle bouche r&hignez 

Vous aurez de foin assez, 

Et de I'avoine k plantd 

" Lentus erat pedibus, 
Nisi foret baculus, 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 273 

Et cum in clunibus, 
Pungeret aculeus. 
Hez, sire asne, etc. 

" Ecce magnis auribus, 
Subjugalis filius, 
Asinus egregius, 
Asinorum dominus. 
Hez, sire asne, etc. 

" Hie, in coUibus Sichem 
Enutritus sub Rubem 
Transiit per Jordanem, 
Saliit in Bethlehem. 
Hez, sire asne, etc. 

" Saltu vincit hinnulos, 
Dagmas et capreolos. 
Super dromedaries 
Velox madianeos. 
Hez, sire asne, etc. 

" Aurum de Arabia 
Thus et myrrham de Saba, 
Tulit in ecclesia 
Virtus asinaria. 
Hez, sire asne, etc. 

" Dum trahit vehicula, 
Multa cum sarcinula 
lUius mandibula 
Dura terit pabula. 
Hez, sire asne, etc. 

" Cum aristis hordeum 
Comedit et carduum 
Triticum a palea 
Segregant in area. 
Hez, sire asne, etc. 

" Amen dicas, asine, 
Jam satur ex gramine, 
Amen, amen, itera ; 
Aspernare Vetera. 
Hez, sire asne, etc.'' 

274 Animal Symbolism 

This remarkable hymn may be rendered into 
EngHsh as follows — 

" From the regions of the East 
Came the ass, the worthy beast, 
Strong and fair beyond compare, 
Heavy burdens fit to bear. 

Huzza, Sir Ass, because you chant, 
Fair mouth, because you bray. 
You shall have enough of hay, 
And also oats to plant. 

" Slow of foot the beast would fare. 
Should the staff you on him spare, 
Or should fail with many a thump 
To goad him on and prod his rump. 
Huzza, Sir Ass, etc. 

" Lo, with what enormous ears 
This subjugal son appears. 
Most egregious ass, we see 
Lord of asses all in thee. 
Huzza, Sir Ass, etc. 

" He in Sichem's hills was bred, 
Under Reuben's care was fed, 
Passed through Jordan's sacred stream, 
Skipped about in Bethlehem. 
Huzza, Sir Ass, etc. 

" Leaping he outruns the hind. 
Hart and he-goat leaves behind. 
Dromedaries doth surpass 
This our swift and sturdy ass. 
Huzza, Sir Ass, etc. 

" Gold from Araby the blest. 
Frankincense that's much in quest, 
To the church a precious fraught 
Asinary strength hath brought. 
Huzza, Sir Ass, etc. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 275 

" As he draws along the cart 
Heavy-laden to the mart, 
He his jaws doth ever ply, 
Grinding fodder hard and dry. 
Huzza, Sir Ass, etc. 

" Barley with the awn he eats, 
And himself to thistles treats; 
While on threshing-floors are beat 
From the chaff the grains of wheat. 
Huzza, Sir Ass, etc. 

"Amen thou now mayst bray, O ass, 
Satiate with com and grass ; 
Amen repeat, amen reply, 
And antiquity defy. 

Huzza, Sir Ass, etc." 

Sometimes the refrain was simply " Hez, sire 
ass, hez " ; in fact, the service as well as the song 
varied slightly in different places, and was modified 
somewhat by circumstances, but the essential cha- 
racter of the performance remained everywhere the 
same. The music of this chant, which was of a 
grave and solemn character, befitting a religious 
service, has been published by M. F61ix Cldment 
in his Choix des principales Sequences des Moyen 
Age tirhs des Manuscrits. With a courage born 
of enthusiasm, M. Clement had this music of the 
thirteenth century actually performed at the Col- 
lege Stanislas, April 29, 1847, before a select audi- 
ence, composed chiefly of musicians of the Opera 
and Conservatoire of Paris, who are said to have 
received it with applause.^ 

1 Cf. Didron, An. Arch., vii. et al. 

276 Animal Symbolism 

Not unfrequently this festival began in the 
morning, and continued without interruption all 
night till the evening of the following day. The 
singing of the anthem, Conductus ad Poculum 
(" Brought to the Cup "), was the signal for the dis- 
tribution of wine among the choristers, who drank 
very freely, and often got fuddled. While they 
were thus refreshing themselves with bottles of 
wine, the ass was regaled with what the trans- 
mogrified Bottom so greatly desired, "a bottle of 
hay " and a bucket of water. With the intonation 
of the second anthem, Conductus ad Ludos ("Brought 
to the Sports"), the ass was led into the nave of the 
church, and danced round by the priests and the 
people, who imitated its bray. After the dance 
the ass was reconducted into the chancel and pro- 
vided with fresh rations of provender. The feast 
ended with the anthem, Conductus ad Prandium 
(" Brought to the Banquet "), which was sung after 
vespers on the second day, and was an invitation 
to the final repast.^ At the close of the service the 
priest, instead of uttering the usual formula of dis- 
missal, " Ite, missa est," broke forth into a loud 
" Hee-haw," which he repeated three times as a 
parting benediction to the worshippers, and a trinal 
tribute to the animal which formed the centre of 
interest and of homage in this strange religious 

There was also a preparatory meeting or con- 

' Cf. William Hone, Ancient Mysteries., p. 165 ; London, 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 277 

vocation held on the eve of the feast, when the 
clergy in full canonicals went in procession to 
meet the ass at the door of the cathedral, accom- 
panied by two choristers, who chanted the following 
invocation — 

" Lux hodie, lux letitise me judice tristis 
Quisquis erit, removendus erit, solemnibus istis, 
Sicut hodie, procul invidia, procul omnia moesta, 
Lasta volunt, quiscumque celebret asinaria festa." 

" O light to-day, O light of joy, I banish every sorrow ; 

Wherever found, be it expelled from our solemnities to- 

Away with strife and grief and care from every anxious 

And all be filled with mirth who in the Ass's Feast take 

The ass was then conducted to a table, usually in 
the vestry, at which the dean sat with two pre- 
bendaries, who read the order of proceedings as 
arranged for the following day, and the names and 
offices of the participants. The ass, offering no 
objections, was supposed to give silent consent to 
the programme, which was accordingly approved. 

M. Pierre Louvret, in his Histoire du Diocese de 
Beauvais, published in 1635, gives an account of 
the manner in which this feast was celebrated in 
the cathedral of that city, whose bishops bore the 
rank and title of princes, and held the highest place 
among the civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries of the 
realm. The ass in a cope, sculptured on an archi- 
volt in St. Peter's Church in Aulnay, and dating 
from the twelfth century, is a survival of the festive 

278 Animal Symbolism 

observance just described; indeed, the ass in sacer- 
dotal vestments, painted in fresco, or more fre- 
quently carved in relief, may be seen in many 
sacred edifices. 

In an essay entitled L'Ane au Moyen-Age, printed 
in Didron's Annales ArchJologiques (vols, vii., xv., 
and xvi.), M. F61ix Clement interprets the ass as 
a symbol of the Saviour, and thus comments on 
the first verse of the ass's litany : " It is from 
the Orient that the light comes to us; the Orient 
is the cradle of the human race; from the Orient 
came the wise men, the Magi, with whose gifts 
the ass was laden; in the Orient appeared the 
star which guided them to Bethlehem." He also 
quotes St. Bernard, who calls Jesus Christ Oriens 
in vespere. Pulcher refers to the moral beauty 
of Christ, fortissimus to His strength in over- 
coming the great adversary, the prince of dark- 
ness, and in conquering death and hell, and sarcinis 
aptissimus to His fitness to bear the burden of a 
sinful world, symbolized by the heavy weight of 
the Cross. In the fourth verse Sichem is mentioned 
because it was the ancient capital of Israel and 
the chief place of worship of the Samaritans, and 
Bethlehem because Christianity began there. The 
superiority of the ass to the other animals enumer- 
ated in the fifth verse signifies that Christ surpassed 
in excellence all the Hebrew prophets. The eighth 
verse indicates the office of Christ as winnower, 
who with His fan in His hand will purge the floor, 
gathering the wheat into the garner, but burning 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 279 

the chaff with unquenchable fire. Aspemare Vetera 
impHes that old things have passed away, and that 
the Synagogue has been supplanted by the Church. 
Even the refrain of the hymn, " Hez, sire asne," is 
interpreted as an abbreviation of " Hatez vos pas, 
divin Messie," and an earnest injunction to the 
Lord Jesus to come quickly and complete the work 
of human redemption. Nevertheless, M. Clement 
does not seem to have full confidence in the cor- 
rectness of this explanation, since he afterwards 
proposes another theory, by which the ass from 
the East, so full of strength and courage, becomes 
a type of the Jewish people, the " depositary and 
transmitter of the belief in the true God." 

But whatever symbolism there may have been 
originally, or is still discernible to the ecclesio- 
logical eye in this feast, was soon swallowed up 
and lost sight of in gross buffoonery, and the 
religious service degenerated into a sort of Saturna- 
lian amusement, which suited the coarse tastes of 
the time, and is not to be judged by our modern 
sense of the sacredness of things, or by the standards 
of delicate and even fastidious feeling developed by 
centuries of intellectual culture and inherited refine- 
ment. The age of faith, as it is called, was not 
at all squeamish, and did not suffer itself to be 
shocked in the slightest degree by grotesque and 
farcical exhibitions in sacred places. Mediaeval 
monks and ecclesiastics were neither thin-skinned 
nor dainty-minded, and, like the lower classes of 
the people, from which the great majority of them 

28o Animal Symbolism 

sprung, they indulged in the coarsest jokes, appre- 
ciating and enjoying them all the more when they 
were at the expense of their cloth. The Church 
aimed to take everything under her control, and 
to direct the pleasures as well as to dictate the 
penances of the masses. The bishops, as Viollet-le- 
Duc observes, preferred to throw open their cathe- 
drals to the crowd, and to permit such jollities 
within the consecrated walls, rather than to run the 
risk of dangerous fermentations of popular ideas 
outside. It was especially necessary to maintain 
ecclesiastical jurisdiction and supremacy, and not 
let men get the fatal notion into their heads that 
they could even indulge in merrimakes and pas- 
times otherwise than under the auspices of the in- 
dulgent Mother Church. Such a presumption and 
precedent would have been as perilous to hierarch- 
ical authority as it would be prejudicial to medical 
prestige to let a man die without the prescription 
of a doctor. Whatever concerned the moral or 
material interests of the community, whether it 
was to rebuke the vicious habits of mendicant 
monks and wandering minstrels, or to exterminate 
locusts, weevils, and other destructive vermin by 
anathematisms, the Church did not deem it alien 
to her office or injurious to her sanctity to draw 
within her pale, and to make contributory to her 
power and glory. 

The capitals of the columns on the doorway 
leading to the south aisle of St. Sebald's Church in 
Nuremberg are adorned with quaint forms of 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 281 

beasts which are to be interpreted in part as 
ministering spirits outside of the precincts of the 
sanctuary, and in part as types of human weakness 
under temptation, and especially of priestly frailties. 
Guy de Munois, Abbot of St. Germain d'Auxerre 
(1285 — 1309), had for his official seal the figure of a 
cowled ape with an abbot's staff in its hand, and the 
legend, " Abb6 de singe air main d'os serre." The 
seal of the Bishop of Pinon in Picardie was an ape 
in episcopal robes, with crosier and mitre. Ecclesi- 
astical dignitaries, v/ho took delight in satirizing 
the infirmities of their order and in caricaturing 
themselves and their sacred office, would not find 
anything offensive in celebrating the Feast of the 
Ass, and would not scruple to permit animals in 
copes and stoles to be carved on the stalls and 
portals of consecrated edifices, or to be represented 
in painting and sculpture in the act of burlesquing 
the holy Mass and the burial service. 

Sincere and even ardent Catholics did not hesitate 
to ridicule many practices which were authorized 
and encouraged by the see of Rome. Such was 
the sale of relics, a scandalous abuse sanctioned by 
the Church, but satirized by John Heywood, a 
graduate of Oxford and favourite of the bigoted 
Queen Mary, a zealous papist, whom the accession 
of Elizabeth in 1558 forced to take refuge on the 
Continent at Mechlin, where he died towards the 
close of the sixteenth century. In a play called 
"The Four P.P., a very merry Enterlude of a 
Palmer, a Pardoner, a Pothecary, and a Pedler," 

282 Animal Symbolism 

this sturdy and scholarly Romanist exposes the 
frauds perpetrated by preaching friars as itinerant 
vendors of saints' bones. Pardoner exhibits and 
extols the wonder-working virtues of his wares, and 
bids his hearers kiss with devotion 

" Of All-Hallows the blessed jaw-bone." 

Pothecary, who claims to be an expert in antiquities 
of this sort, declares that the relic is in bad odour, 
and enough to turn the strongest stomach — 

" For by All-Hallows, yet methinketh 
That All-Hallows' breath stinketh." 

Pardoner replies that Pothecary must have caught 
a sniff of his own foul breath, and proceeds to cry 
his merchandise with the impudence and volubility 
of a mountebank — 

" Nay, sirs, behold, here may ye see 
The great toe of the Trinitie. 
Who to this toe any money vowth. 
And once may role it in his mouth. 
All his life after, I undertake, 
He shall never be vext with toothake.'' 

To this assurance Pothecary retorts sarcastically — 

" I pray you turn that relique about : 
Either the Trinity had the gout, 
Or else, because it is three toes in one, 
God made it as much as three toes alone." 

Pardoner, who bets a large assortment of "holy 
particles," and 'is not to be bluffed by having a 
seeming blur cast upon any one of them, brings out 
another specimen and says — 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 283 

" Well, let that pass, and look at this. 
Here is a ,relique that doth not miss 
To help the least as well as the most: 
This is a buttock-bone of Pentecost." 

He has also "a slipper of one of the seven sleepers," 
"an eye-tooth of the Great Turk," and 

" a box full of the bumblebees 
That stang Eve as she sat on her knees, 
Tasting the fruit to her forbidden." 

Again, in The Pardoner and the Friar a similar 
assortment of relics is exposed for sale : " the great 
toe of the Trinity" ; "All- Hallows' jaw-bone," an in- 
fallible antidote for poisons ; " of Saint Michael eke 
the brain-pan," commended as a specific for head- 
ache ; the " bongrace of our gracious lady, which 
she wore with her French hood when she went out 
as a protection gainst sun-burning"; "a holy Jew's 
hip-bone," which, if cooked in the pottage, will cure 
a man of jealousy, and inspire him with perfect 
confidence in the virtue of his wife, even "had she 
been taken with friars two or three." As the par- 
doner is about to show the pope's bull and other 
credentials from Rome, the friar begins his sermon, 
and the preaching and peddling go on simultan- 
eously, until the two competitors for popular favour 
fall to blackguarding each other, and finally come 
to blows. The village parson, with the help of 
"neighbour Prat," who acts as constable, tries to 
separate them ; but his reverence is no match for 
the burly friar, and soon finds, to use his own ex- 
pression, that he has more tow on his distaff than he 

284 Animal Symbolism 

can spin, while the pardoner, who proves to be as 
adroit in pugilism as in pious mendacity, quickly 
" punishes " the officious Prat. 

The authors of coarse satires like these were not 
heretics or infidels, but staunch adherents of the 
Romish Church, who were ready to endure exile 
or to suffer death for the faith that was in them.^ 
That their descriptions of this traffic are scarcely 
exaggerated is proved by the kind and quantity of 
relics still preserved and exposed to adoration in 
Catholic churches. In the middle ages, when such 
articles were in great request, and the bones of 
saints, in the jargon of the exchange, were "lively" 
and often became " excited," the economical law of 
demand and supply, which is as universal and un- 
escapable as that of gravitation, worked in a marvel- 
lous and quite miraculous way, and produced some 
astounding results. 

Some years ago a distinguished anatomist, who 
visited an old church on the Hradshin in Prague, 
observed that a skeleton in one of the shrines had 
two right thigh-bones. It was suggested that this 
idiosyncrasy might be due to the transforming effect 
of canonization, and some devotees were inclined to 
regard it as a sign of peculiar sanctity ; but only 
the most credulous of the faithful accepted this view 
as an adequate explanation of the phenomenon. 
It was generally admitted that such abnormities 

' Cf. Dodsley's Old Plays, i. 88, loi, etc.; William Hone's 
Ancient Mysteries, 87-88 ; Hazlitt's edition aiThe Four P.P.., 
with modernized orthography. London, 1874. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 285 

of structure were unbecoming in persons whom 
the public had been taught to revere as patterns of 
piety, and to imitate as models of perfection ; and 
although they may have despised the vanities and 
seductions of the flesh during their lives, they ought 
not to give offence or occasion for scoffing by any 
conspicuous irregularity in the arrangement of their 
bones after death. Accordingly an inquest was 
held ; the worshipful relics were " sat upon " by a 
jury of experts, who, as the result of their investi- 
gations, recommended a general overhauling and 
reparation of the remains of the saints kept in the 
churches of the Bohemian capital. The celebrated 
anatomist. Professor Joseph Hyrtl, was induced to 
undertake the task, which had to be performed with 
the greatest secrecy and circumspection, and he 
finally succeeded in ridding the enshrined skeletons 
of their most obtrusive deviations from the organism 
of the natural man, and establishing a certain 
degree of harmony between the provinces of sacred 
and scientific osteology. 

It must not be inferred, however, that the saints 
of Prague were exceptional in their variations from 
the common sinful human type. The critical 
examination of all the treasuries of relics in Christ- 
endom would disclose the remains of holy men 
and of godly women not a few, who seem to have 
had as many arms as Briareus, and as many legs 
as a centipede. It is well known that St. Anna 
had three arms, only one less than Vishnu ; and 
this tribrachial characteristic appears to have been 

286 Animal Symbolism 

hereditary in her family, otherwise it would be 
difficult to account for the fact that one arm of 
the Virgin Mary is revered in Rome, another in 
Nuremberg, and a third in Cologne. St, Vitus 
was unquestionably quadrumanous ; one of his 
hands is in Sienna and another in Bamberg, whilst 
his entire skeleton, including both hands, is shown 
in the cathedral at Prague. Perhaps the anthro- 
pologist, who has hitherto searched for "the 
missing link" among chimpanzees, orang-outangs, 
and other simian tribes, will at last come upon the 
object of his quest in the voluminous and won- 
drous annals of hagiology. Some saints were 
evidently in the habit of shedding their skulls at 
different periods of their growth, just as stags 
throw off their antlers and serpents cast their skins. 
This was the case with St. Peter, whose skull as a 
child may be seen in one shrine, while his fully- 
developed cranium as an adult is kept in another. 
As a matter of convenience for future collectors, 
and kind consideration for a devout posterity, 
such forethought is most remarkable, and cannot 
be too highly praised. When the abbot Marolles 
of Amiens was shown a head of John the Baptist, 
he exclaimed : " Glory be to God, that is the sixth 
head of the Redeemer's forerunner I have had the 
good fortune to adore ! " 

The miraculous power of self-multiplication with 
which the " particles " of the saints are endowed 
extends also to their personal effects. There are 
now in existence about a dozen equally well 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 287 

authenticated originals of the seamless vesture, 
upon which the Roman soldiers cast lots. The 
most celebrated specimen of this garment is the 
" holy coat " in the cathedral of Trier, where it 
has been repeatedly exhibited as an object of 
worship and a source of revenue, and even as 
recently as 1891 attracted crowds of fetichistic 
pilgrims. Its history, as recorded in a German 
poem of the twelfth century entitled Orendel, 
surpasses in extravagance the wildest inventions 
of classical and Oriental mythology. Scores of 
churches possess pieces of the true cross, which 
nevertheless may be seen intact in Paris ; the same 
is the case with Aaron's rod, a portion of which is 
at Bamberg, although the whole is in an excellent 
state of preservation at Milan. 

The superstitious fondness for sacred relics in 
the middle ages, like the modern enthusiasm for 
antiques and masterpieces of the Renaissance, 
incited the dealers in such wares to wholesale 
perpetrations of fraud. The skeleton of many a 
malefactor, whose head was deservedly severed 
from his body by the executioner's axe, is now 
revered as the remains of a blessed martyr ; and 
countless bones, set with jewels and deposited in 
costly shrines, were originally taken from the 
gallows-pit. That the author of The Four P.P. 
gave a true picture of the extent to which this 
fraudulent traffic was carried on, can be clearly 
shown, as we have already suggested, by examining 
the lists of relics in the older Catholic churches. 

288 Animal Symbolism 

Thus, for example, in Santa Prassede at Rome, 
among other queer things of this kind, are a tooth 
of St. Peter and one of St. Paul, as well as bits 
of their respective skulls, a scrap of the Virgin's 
chemise, a bottle of her milk, and a piece of her 
sepulchre, fragments of the Saviour's girdle and of 
His swaddling-clout, the pillar at which He was 
scourged, some of the earth on which He kneeled 
in prayer before the Passion, the reed and sponge 
with which He was given vinegar to drink on the 
cross, parts of His vesture for which the Roman 
soldiers cast lots, and three thorns from the crown 
of thorns ; near by, in Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, 
are the superscription which Pilate put on the 
cross, one of the thirty pieces of silver paid to 
Judas, and the finger with which the doubting 
Thomas was told to touch the print of the nails 
in the hands of the risen Lord ; in the cloister 
of St. Barbara in Coblence is the fore-skin of the 
infant Jesus, which in the last century is said to 
have wrought a startling and somewhat unseemly 
miracle on one of the nuns. Before the Reform- 
ation, Schaffhausen was proud of possessing some 
of the breath of St. Joseph enclosed in one of 
the gloves of Nicodemus ; Halle boasted of having 
fragments of Noah's ark, and of the chemise 
worn by the Virgin during her confinement; and 
the church of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux at Chalons 
guarded as a rare treasure the navel of Jesus 
Christ until 1707, when the rationalistic bishop 
Noailles had it removed. An additional and 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 289 

exceedingly strong evidence of the extent to which 
this utterly absurd " fad " prevailed, and duped 
with vile counterfeits even the shrewdest and most 
sensible men, is the fact that Duke Frederic III., 
surnamed the Wise, the Elector of Saxony and 
the protector of Luther, had a collection of nearly 
four thousand relics, among which were such 
choice specimens as milk of the Virgin, yarn which 
she spun — the yarn we suspect was of the nautical 
sort, and spun at a much later period — remains of 
the children slain in Bethlehem, straw and hay 
from the manger in which Jesus was born, teeth 
and hair of Christ, and portions of His raiment. 
Boccaccio, in the Decameron (Giorn. vi., Nov. 10), 
gives some specimens of Fra Cipolla's sacred col- 
lection : the jaw-bone of Lazarus, a feather of the 
angel Gabriel, the hood of the seraph which ap- 
peared to St. Francis, the toe-nail of a cherub, 
some vestments of the Holy Catholic Faith, a finger 
of the Holy Ghost, a few rays of the star of Bethle- 
hem, and a vial containing tones of the bells of 
Solomon's temple. Curiously enough, the scoffing 
poet took a religious turn in the fiftieth year of his 
age, and became himself a diligent and devout 
collector of religious relics. 

Coarse caricatures and obscene characterizations 
of the Jews are quite common in Christian 
churches. Thus on the north-east corner of the 
lofty choir near the roof in the parish church at 
Wittenberg is a rude high-relief, hewn in stone, of 
a sow with a litter of pigs, and among them a lot 


290 Animal Symbolism 

of Jews, who are assiduously sucking her dugs to 
the dispossession and great discomfort of her own 

young. Behind the 
sow stands a rabbi, 
who, lifting her right 
leg with one hand, 
and holding her by 
the tail with the 
other, earnestly en- 
deavours to peer into 

Satire on the Jews. hcr insideS, aS thoUgh 

{Wittenberg Parish church.') , , . 

he saw something 
there worthy of his closest and keenest scrutiny. 
According to Luther's interpretation of this re- 
markable work of art, the Jewish doctor of the law 
is engaged in searching into the mysteries of the 

Above this sculpture stood originally a semi- 
Hebrew inscription in Latin characters : " Rabini 
Schemhamphoras," which seems to have accidentally 
disappeared or been purposely removed during the 
restoration of the church in 1570. Schemham- 
phoras is the hidden name of God, which, if spoken 
or written, works magically and is used for con- 

' " Es ist hie zu Wittemberg an vnser Pfarrkirchen eine 
Saw in Stein gehawen, da ligen junge Ferckel vnnd Jiiden 
vnter, die saugen. Hinder der Saw stehet eyn Rabin, der 
hebt der Saw das rechte bein empor, und mit seiner lincken 
hand zeucht er den pirtzel vber sich, biickt vnnd kuckt mit 
grossem vleis der Saw unter dem pirtzel inn den Thalmud 
hinein, als wolt er etwas scharffes vnd sonderliches lessen 
und ersehen." — Dr. Mar. Luther, Von Schemhamphoras vnnd 
Geschlecht Christi. Wittenberg, 1543, 4to. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 291 

juration. Also the passage describing the miracle 
of the pillar of the cloud and the division of the 
waters (Ex. xiv. 19-21) consists in the original of 
two hundred and sixteen letters, out of which the 
cabalists form seventy-two words of three letters 
each. They pronounce these words as numbers, 
and understand by them the names of seventy-two 
angels, which correspond to as many special 
powers and attributes of God, and are exceedingly 
potent as charms.^ 

A rhymed chronicle preserved in the city 
archives of Wittenberg states that the aforesaid 
relief was intended to deride and vex the Jews, 
who, by their chafferings and bickerings on Sunday 
near the sanctuary, disturbed and scandalized all 
good Christians. After due deliberation, it was 
resolved to have this work made in order to heap 
contempt upon the Jews, and to compel them to 
seek some other place of barter. The ingenious 
plan, the chronicler informs us, was crowned with 
complete success, and the Hebrew trafifickers felt 
so insulted that they not only ceased to transact 
their business in the vicinity of the church, but 
gradually withdrew wholly from the city. 

This explanation is a mere afterthought and 
pure invention, and is not sustained by any his- 
torical records, nor is it at all probable that the 
Christians of Wittenberg would have been obliged 
to resort to such indirect means of suppressing 

1 Cf. Zeiischrift fur deutsche Kulturgeschichte, i. 463 sqq. 

292 Animal Symbolism 

the alleged abuse. In cases of this kind, they 
were not wont to deal in innuendoes, but to take 
more summary measures. Besides, similar repre- 
sentations exist elsewhere. Thus, on one of the 
buttresses on the north side of the church of St. 
Nicholas in Zerbst, the former capital of the 
principality of Anhalt, is the relief of a sow with 
two Jews sucking her teats, while two others are 
holding her fast by the head and tail. It was 
carved there as a memorial of the banishment of 
the Jews from that city, as can be proved by 
existing documents ; and the Wittenberg sculpture 
had undoubtedly the same origin, and was intended 
to satirize Jewish extortion and greed of gain. 
It is well known that a pretty general persecution 
and banishment of the Jews took place in 1348 
and 1 349 under divers' pretexts ; among other 
accusations was that of producing pestilence by 
poisoning the wells, the pollution of the water caused 
by the common filthiness of the inhabitants being 
ascribed to the wickedness of one class of the 

There is no doubt that the position to which 
Christian intolerance condemned the Jews for 
many centuries, closing to them all branches of 
industry except usury, developed in them a peculiar 
talent for finance, together with certain hard and 
offensive traits of character naturally growing out 
of money brokerage, and finally becoming almost 
innate and hereditary. In the middle ages they 
were made to serve as sponges to suck up the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 293 

people's substance in order that it might be 
squeezed out of them at the convenience of the 
rulers. King John II., surnamed the Good, issued 
in 1360 a decree permitting the Jews in his realm 
to take, as a compensation for loaning money, 
" quatre deniers par livre par semaine," equivalent 
to ninety per cent, per annum, not from any feeling 
of favouritism for the Israelites, but, as he ex- 
pressly stated, because " the greater the privileges 
enjoyed by the Jews in this respect, the better 
they will be able to pay the taxes levied on them 
by the king." This " good " monarch was wont to 
confiscate periodically a large portion of the pillage 
thus obtained, in order to replenish his exhausted 
exchequer, and was actually praised by his deluded 
subjects for punishing Jewish rapacity. It was a 
crafty system of indirect taxation worthy of modern 
tariff legislators. Also in the early part of the 
thirteenth century, Frederic II., the Hohenstaufe, 
ordained that the Jews should be permitted to 
dwell in Nuremberg and to lend money on interest, 
stating that, " inasmuch as this sinful business is 
essential to trade and to the commerical prosperity 
of the city, it would be a lesser evil to let the Jews 
carry it on, than that Christians should imperil the 
salvation of their souls by such iniquitous practices, 
since the former, owing to their notorious obduracy, 
will doubtless persist in their religious perversity 
and be damned anyhow." If the children of Israel 
now " take a breed of barren metal," as naturally 
as a pointer takes to pointing, or a hound to the 

294 Animal Symbolism 

trail of a fox, this tendency is due in part at least 
to circumstances which they did not create and 
could not control. The chief accusation brought 
against the modern representatives of this race by 
Anti-Semitic agitators, is that they are unwilling 
to follow industrial and especially agricultural 
pursuits, in utter forgetfulness of the fact that, until 
a comparatively recent date, they were forbidden 
by Christian legislation either to engage in me- 
chanical occupations or to own land, a condition of 
things still existing in portions of Russia and other 
half-civilized countries. 

The gross method of outraging the feelings just 
described had not even the merit of being original 
with those who employed it. The Emperor Hadrian, 
after having suppressed the revolt of Bar-Cochba 
and recaptured Jerusalem, A.D. 135, caused images 
of swine to be sculptured over the gates of the city 
as a sign of the exclusion of the Jews, who were 
forbidden to dwell within the walls. He then re- 
stored it as a Roman city under the name of ^lia 
Capitolina, and converted the tabernacle of Jehovah 
into a temple dedicated to Jupiter.^ 

On the synagogue in Heidingsfeld is an armorial 
shield, on which are emblazoned two swine. It is 
the escutcheon of the Prince Bishop of Wurzburg, 
Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim, who had it placed 
there instead of the arms of Heidingsfeld, which 
the Jews wished to adorn their sanctuary with, but 

' Cf. Adrichomius, Descriptio urbis Hierosolymorum. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 295 

were forbidden by the magistracy to use for this 
purpose. The Rabbis were obliged to accept these 
heraldic porkers as gosh or ceremonially clean in 
consecrating the edifice. 

A painting formerly on the lower part of the 

Satire on the Jews. {Tower of Bridge at Frankfort^ 

tower of the bridge across the Main in Frankfort 
represented an old Jew with spectacles on his nose 
sitting backwards on an enormous sow, and holding 
her tail in his right hand. A young Jew is lying 
on his back under the sow and eagerly sucking her 

296 Animal Symbolism 

dugs ; another old Jew is kneeling on the ground 
and receiving the sow's excrement into his mouth, 
while Satan with hoofs and horns steals up behind 
him and seizes him by the shoulder. Standing a 
little to one side is a Jewess arrayed in fine attire, 
holding a goat (the symbol of lechery) by the 
horns and looking the devil boldly in the face ; 
underneath the picture is the following verse : 

" Sauf du die Milch, friss du den Dreck, 
Das ist doch euer bestes Geschleck." 

" Drink the milk and eat the dung, 
That's a dainty for your tongue." 

Above is the naked and scarred body of a Chris- 
tian child, reputed to be the victim of a ritual 
murder committed by the Jews in the year 1275. 
This is the description of the painting in its original 
form. Other accounts differ somewhat from this 
one, probably owing to the disappearance of por- 
tions of it in the lapse of time, and to the intro- 
duction of slight changes by later renovators. 
The Jews of Frankfort offered large sums of money 
to have it removed, but in vain ; only a finer sense 
of propriety, and a higher standard of public decency, 
resulting from the progress of civilization, availed 
to do away with the scandalous libel.^ 

' Engravings of this painting are published in Der 
Antiquarms cies Neckar- Main- Lahn- und Mosehtroms, 
Frankfurt a. M., 1740, p. 342; and in Scheible's Schaltjahr, 
iii. p. 212. The former corresponds to the description just 
given ; in the latter a tree stands in the place of the 
Jewess. Cf. also Sichmxdi, Jiidtscke Merkwiedigkeiten, 1741, 
li. 256 sgq. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 297 

A sow with two Jews as sucklings is carved 
on one of the stalls of the choir in Bale Minster ; 
and in the cathedral of Magdeburg a chapel 
dedicated to the Virgin Mary contains a similar 
representation, dating from the fifteenth century. 
It is a strange irony of fate that the Jewish race 
should be thus held up to derision in a place 
especially devoted to the worship of a Jewish 
maiden. Among the gargoyles on the collegiate 
church (Stiftskirche) of Wimpfen im Thai, a fine 
Gothic edifice of the thirteenth century, is the figure 
of a Jew sucking a sow and pushing aside a little 
pig, which is anxious to have its turn at the 
maternal breast. Sculptures of a like character 
are found on the city hall (Rathhaus) of Salzburg, 
on the chapel of St. Anna in Heiligenstadt on the 
Leine, and among the grotesque carvings with 
which a monk adorned the high altar and the stalls 
of the chancel in the church at Heilbrunn, founded 
in 1 132, and once famous as a place of pilgrimage. 
The Jew suckled by a sow seems to have been 
the one great Anti-Semitic joke of the middle ages, 
and, judging from its frequent repetition and wide 
diffusion, must have been regarded as a wonder- 
fully clever and altogether matchless stroke of 
Christian wit and satire. It was chiselled on the 
cathedral of Ratisbon, probably at the time of the 
expulsion of the Jews from that city in 1519, an 
event of sufficient importance to be deemed worthy 
of commemoration by an inscription on an apothe- 
cary's shop in Kelheim: "Anno Dom. 15 19 jar 

298 Animal Symbolism 

wurden die juden zu Rengsburg ausgeschafft." It 
occurs again in the cathedral of Freising on the 
Isar with the following distich, which takes a rather 
discouraging view of the missionary work under- 
taken by the Society for the Propagation of the 
Gospel among the Jews — 

" So wahr die Maus die Katz nit frisst, 
Wird der Jud kein wahrer Christ." 

" Sure as the mouse the cat won't chew, 
No Jew '11 become a Christian true." 

The promoters of such proselytism may derive 
some consolation from the fact that the ambiguity 
caused by the feminine gender of "Maus" and 
" Katz," either of which may be the subject or the 
object of the verb, render it possible for this rather 
clumsy verse to be so construed as to express the 
very opposite of the sentiment intended by the 

Jews formerly complained of being obliged to 
take an oath standing on a swine's skin, but this 
method of swearing may have been a survival of 
the old German custom of solemnly affirming the 
truth of any statement by the golden-bristled boar, 
Gullinbursti, sacred to the sun-god Freyr, which 
the Jews would naturally look upon as a parti- 
cular grievance and intentional persecution. The 
Romans sacrificed a swine in forming treaties and 
making alliances, and the animal was also in this 
case a symbol of the sun, the great revealer of 
secrets and detecter of falsehood. In the Euntenides 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 299 

of ^schylus, Apollo the purger (^AiroWcav naOdpa-ios) 
cleanses Orestes from the stains of matricidal pol- 
lution with swine's blood, and Circe purifies the 
Argonauts, the abettors of the murder of Absyrtus, 
in the same manner. 

It would be foreign to the purpose of the pre- 
sent work to describe the various means devised to 
throw derision upon the Jews ; only such satirical 
delineations as are conspicuously connected with 
ecclesiastical architecture come within its scope.^ 
It would be unjust, however, not to mention the 
heroic spirit of self-sacrifice which such trials tended 
to develop, and of which the following is a note- 
worthy instance. During a religious procession in 
Worms, a report was spread abroad that a crucifix 
had been mutilated. Of course the Jews, who served 
as scapegoats for all such offences, were accused of 
the sacrilege, and a mob of Christian zealots, hasten- 
ing to the Jews' quarter, demanded with loud cries 
the surrender of the culprits, and threatened, in case 
of refusal, to wreak vengeance on the whole Jewish 
population. A three days' respite was granted in 
order to discover the persons who had committed the 
outrage. Towards evening two Hebrew strangers 
appeared at the closed entrance to the Jewry and 

' The reader who is interested in the general subject is 
referred to F. L. Bosigk's essay " Ueber die Judenspottbilder 
des Mittelalters " in Zeitschrift fur detttscke Kulturge- 
schichte, i. 463-469; and to Strobel's Geistliches deutsches Kar- 
ienspiel, published in 1 691 at Sulzbach, and containing an 
account of Schellensau, a game of cards designed to ridicule 
the Jews. 

300 Animal Symbolism 

begged for admittance. They were informed of 
the terrible fate impending over the whole Israelitic 
community, but insisted in sharing the lot of their 
brethren, whatever it might be. At the expiration 
of the three days' grace the infuriated and fanatical 
rabble assembled again at the gate of the ghetto and 
clamoured for the punishment of the sacrilegists. 
Then the two stranger guests gave themselves up 
as the guilty ones, and were put to death. In the 
old synagogue at Worms are two ever-burning 
lamps, which, as a Hebrew inscription informs us, 
were lighted in memory of two unknown men, 
who innocently suffered a cruel death for the sake 
of their brethren. 

Classical mythology was another source from 
which Christian symbolism derived many concep- 
tions and forms subsequently embodied in ecclesi- 
astical architecture. It could hardly be expected 
that the first Gentile converts, however sincere in 
their profession of the new faith, would be able to 
break away entirely from the teachings and tradi- 
tions of their early life and education. They were 
also told that the pagan religions were not merely 
old wives' fables, but had a certain heavenly 
origin and historical justification as preparatory to 
Christianity, which they foreshadowed. The real 
significance and raison (Titre of the deities of 
Olympus were to be sought in their prototypical 
relation to the expiatory sacrifice on Mount Cal- 
vary. Hermes, who was represented in heathen 
works of art as the protector of the herds, the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 301 

conductor of souls, and the reviver of the dead, 
would be readily accepted as prefigurative of the 
Saviour of mankind, and Perseus rescuing Andro- 
meda as signifying Christ redeeming the human 
soul. On a sarcophagus in the Museo Pio-Clemen- 
tino at Rome is the relief of a satyr bearing a 
lamb, and having features strongly resembling those 
of the traditional good shepherd. There is no 
doubt, too, that the fear of persecution led the 
Christians of the first century to make this sym- 
bolical use of the old mythology ; and it may have 
been the same dictate of prudence that prevented 
them from encircling the head of Christ with a 
nimbus, the earliest example of which, in the 
catacomb of St. Domitilla, belongs to the beginning 
of the second century. 

Some of the Fathers held the views still enter- 
tained by Mr. Gladstone, that all mythologies are 
corruptions and distortions of a primitive revela- 
tion supernaturally communicated to " the chosen 
people." The applications of this theory are some- 
times very odd. Thus it was affirmed that the 
ass's colt bound to the vine mentioned by the 
patriarch Jacob in blessing Judah (Gen. xlix. 11) 
is not only a prefiguration of Christ's entry into 
Jerusalem, but also the original source of the myths 
of Bacchus, Bellerophon, and Pegasus. The asin- 
inity of many a one who essays to bestride the 
winged horse of the Muses is lamentably true ; but 
that the fiery steed itself is the foal of Shiloh's ass 
may be reasonably questioned. Isaiah prophesies 

302 Animal Symbolism 

that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son ; and 
nothing is more common than for Orientals to 
speak of the first-born as the child of a virgin ; but 
the patristic exegetist maintains that this passage, 
besides being a prediction of the birth of Christ, 
suggested to the Greeks the legend of Danae, the 
mother of Perseus. In like manner the labours 
and wanderings of Hercules are based upon the 
Psalmist's description of the bridegroom, who 
rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race, and whose 
going forth is from the end of the heaven. Whim- 
seys of this kind have been long since relegated to 
the waste-garret of mythological curiosities; but 
they are not a whit more extravagant than many 
hermeneutical expositions still in vogue. 

The magic power ascribed to the music of 
Orpheus, which tamed wild beasts and even moved 
trees and stones, was applied to the miraculous 
power of Christ, who declared, on His entry into 
Jerusalem, in reply to the protests of the Pharisees 
against the noisy enthusiasm of the people, that, if 
the multitude should hold their peace, the stones 
would immediately cry out. The descent of the 
mythical Greek poet and minstrel into the lower 
world, and his success in rescuing his spouse 
Eurydice from the dominion of Pluto, rendered the 
analogy more complete, and may have given rise 
to the legend of Christ's descent into hell for the 
purpose of delivering the imprisoned spirits. 
Orpheus thus became a prototype of the Saviour, 
and as such found a place in the Christian pantheon 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 303 

at a very early period. In the centre of the ceiling 
of a cubiculum in the catacomb of St. Domitilla near 
Rome, we see him seated on a rock and playing on 
his lyre, surrounded by beasts and birds, which his 
music has attracted to the spot. He figures 
frequently on Christian sarcophagi and in the 
frescoes of old churches. 

The Bacchanal scenes which adorned the temples 
of the son of Semele were copied or imitated by 
the early Christians in order to illustrate the con- 
ception of the Church as a vineyard, which is 
expressed in the parables of the householder and 
his husbandmen, and of the labourers. An interest- 
ing example of this adaptation is seen in the 
mosaics of the fourth century in the cupola of 
St. Costanza in Rome, representing the genii of 
the vintage. 

In the Gothic choir of the minster at Aix-la- 
Chapelle is an ambo, dating from the early part of 
the eleventh century, with ivory reliefs of a similar 
but still more elaborate character : Bacchus with 
the symbols of his cult, the vine, the lion, the 
panther, and the dog, Pan and the satyrs, the 
triumph of Galatea, centaurs, sirens, tritons, nereids, 
dolphins, the sea-born Venus, Cupids blowing shells 
as trumpets, and the myths of Demeter and Isis 
and Horus in their assumed prefigurative relation 
to the Virgin Mary. 

Scenes from the pagan poets were occasionally 
portrayed, as, for example, in the curious sculptures 
of the twelfth century on a column in the choir of 

304 Animal Symbolism 

the cathedral church of Bile, giving in four reliefs 
the old Babylonian tale of the tragic fate of "a 
pair of star-crossed lovers,'' Pyramus and Thisbe 
as related by Ovid in the fourth book of the 
Metamorphoses. In the first scene Thisbe has 
taken refuge in a tree, at the foot of which a lion 
is rending her mantle, while Pyramus approaches 
with an uplifted sword to slay the lion, which has 
a bit of Thisbe's mantle in its mouth. In the 

Pyramus and Thisbe. {Cathedral o/BAlt.) 

second scene Pyramus is smiting the Hon. He 
then goes in search of Thisbe, but, not finding her, 
is convinced that she has been devoured by the 
savage beast, and in a fit of despair falls on his 
own sword. Thisbe now returns to the place of 
rendezvous, and seeing her lover dead throws her- 
self upon his sword. The final relief shows them 
both pierced through by the same weapon. This 
story of youthful passion thwarted by cruel parents 
was exceedingly popular in the middle ages, and 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 305 

was therefore fitly chosen by Shakespeare to be 
theatrically caricatured by Nick Bottom the weaver, 
Peter Quince the carpenter, and other "rude 
mechanicals," as an episode of A Midstanmer- 
Nigkt's Dream, irom which it was taken by Andreas 
Gryphius in his Absurda Comica oder Herr Peter 

Pyramiis and Thisbe. (Cathedral o/Bdte.) 

Squenz. What religious significance the reliefs in 
Bale Minster may have it would be difficult to 
determine. The lion which disturbs the meeting 
of the lovers, and eventually causes them to commit 
suicide, probably denotes the snares and terrors of 

After the conversion and accession of Constan- 
tino, it was the settled policy of the Christians to 
erect their churches on the sites of demolished 
pagan temples, in order that the people might 
the more readily assemble for the worship of the 
true God in the places where they had been wont 


306 Animal Symbolism 

to pay their devotions to idols. Gregory the Great, 
towards the end of the sixth century, wrote a letter 
of instructions to the missionaries to the Anglo- 
Saxons directing them to pursue this plan. Some- 
times the ancient edifice was simply transformed 
and reconsecrated to the new cult, in which case 
the statues and symbols of the heathen deities 
remained and received a Christian signification as 
objects of worship. Thus the Florentine Baptistery 
superseded a temple dedicated to Mars, and John 
the Baptist succeeded the Roman god of war as 
the patron and protector of the city. The statue 
of Mars, which once adorned the temple, was 
placed on a tower, but was taken down when 
Attila sacked the city in 452, and thrown into the 
Arno, from which it was subsequently recovered 
and set up on a bridge, where it was still standing 
in the fourteenth century, as is evident from the 
references to it by Dante. ^ 

In the gallery of the Vatican are two portrait 
statues of the Greek comic poets, Posidippus and 
Menander, made of Pentelican marble probably by 
Kephisodotos, the son of Praxiteles, for the theatre 
at Athens. After their discovery in Panepema 
towards the end of the sixteenth century they were 
for a long time adored as saints. Under the 
church of S. Clemente in Rome is a temple dedi- 
cated to the worship of Mithras, with the ancient 
altar still standing. In a village church on the 

' Cf. Inf., xiii. 143-150 ; Par., xvi. 49, 145. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 307 

Danube, not far from Linz, is a statue of Isis made 
of black basalt, to which pious Catholics pay their 
devotions, regarding it as an image of the Virgin 
Mary. A statue of the same goddess was wor- 
shipped in the church of St. Germain des Pr^s in 
Paris for nearly ten centuries. This church was 
originally built by Childebert I. about the middle of 
the sixth century on the ruins of a temple of Isis, 
whose image was transferred to the new edifice, 
where it was an object of adoration till 1 5 14, when 
it was destroyed. Three gilded bronze statues of 
Alemannic gods were revered in the chapel of St. 
Aurelia at Bregenz, until St. Gallus in his prose- 
lytic zeal broke them in pieces and threw them 
into the lake in order to put an end to this idolatry. 
Underneath the church of the Benedictine cloister 
of St. Martin near Trier was found, at the time of 
its demolition in 1802, an altar with reliefs of 
Bellona, Minerva, Mercury, and Hercules. As late 
as the sixteenth century a marble statue of 
Hercules slaying the Nemean lion stood in the 
vestibule of St. Ambrosius in Milan; and in St. 
Pietro in Cora the marble altar of a temple of 
Hercules served as a font, on the front of which 
was carved the head of Apollo encircled with a 
halo as a solar deity. Antique sarcophagi and 
cinerary urns were often used as Christian fonts 
and stoups. This origin accounts for the reliefs 
representing the myth of Hippolytus on the font, 
or what was formerly the font, in the cathedral of 
Girgenti, and for the scenes from the infancy of 

3o8 Animal Symbolism 

Bacchus on a vessel which once served as a 
baptismal ewer in the cathedral of Gaeta, but is 
now in the Neapolitan Museum. 

Cameos and other carved stones representing 
m}^hological personages or narrations were prized 
merely as jewels, and set as ornaments in crosiers, 
crosses, and the shrines of saints, without regard 
to the subjects engraved upon them. In the so- 
called cross of Lothair in the minster of Aix-la- 
Chapelle is an amethyst, on which the three Graces 
are carved in relief; the story of Leda and the 
swan is cut on a canonical seal of the twelfth 
century; and an ivory reliquary in the Schloss- 
kirche of Quedlinburg is studded with precious 
stones, among which is an amethyst wrought into 
the head of Bacchus.^ 

The earliest Christian art was purely symbolical, 
rudely indicating instead of fully expressing the 
idea it was intended to convey. Thus a simple 
cross symbolized the doctrine of the Atonement, 
and it was not until a later period that the figure 
of ■ Christ was affixed to the cross, which thus 
became a crucifix, and gradually acquired an 
artistic character. So, too, the cross-bearing lamb 
or Agnus Dei, the Good Shepherd, and similar 
emblems, have no claim to be regarded as works of 
art, but were nothing more than hieroglyphics or 
monograms. This was due not so much to the 
inwardness or spirituality of the new religion 

* Cf. Piper, Myth, der christl. Kunst, i. 59-63, for numerous 
examples of this kind. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 309 

doctrinally, as to its crudeness and incapacity 
artistically. The best productions of early Chris- 
tian art are copies or close imitations of contem- 
porary pagan art, such as tutelar genii, victories. 
Amor and Psyche taken as emblems of the love of 
God and the human soul, the golden apples guarded 
by a dragon in the garden of the Hesperides inter- 
preted as a tradition of the tree of knowledge and 
the subtle serpent in the garden of Eden, Apollo 
on the chariot of the sun transformed into Elias 
borne to heaven on a fiery chariot, and Mercury ot- 
Hermes with a ram on his shoulder expressive of 
the Christian conception of the Saviour as the 
Good Shepherd. 

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries this servile 
imitation is followed by a conscious appropriation 
and independent elaboration of pagan myths by 
Christian artists, as the result of a better appreci- 
ation of the antique. Sibyls as well as saints and 
prophets stand in the niches of Giotto's tower, and 
are sculptured in relief on the bronze doors of 
Ghjberti in Florence, and on the Casa Santa of 
Loreto. A mosaic in San Michele at Pavia 
celebrates the humane and heroic feat of Theseus 
in slaying the Minotaur; on one side of the en- 
trance to the labyrinth is a dragon, and on the 
other side a Pegasus; on the left hand, as thie 
biblical counterpart of the classical myth, is David 
fighting Goliath. It is probably a work of the 
eleventh century. 

Petrarch calls God "living Jove" and "eternal 

3 1 o Animal Symbolism 

Jove"; and Dante apostrophizes Christ as " supreme 
Jove, who for us on earth was crucified " — 

" O sommo Giove, 
Chi fosti'n terra per noi crocifisso." 

Indeed, Jupiter was used as synonymous with 
Jesus in poetry long before the features of the 
sovereign of Olympus were borrowed by painters 
and sculptors to lend dignity and majesty to the 
portraitures of Christ, especially in His character 
as stern and avenging Judge on the last day. 

Giotto, whose pencil wrought in the spirit of the 
Divine Comedy, and whose pictures are often mere 
embodiments and illustrations of Dante's ideas, 
introduced similar elements of ancient mythology 
into Christian art by way of allegory. So, too, in 
the famous frescoes of the triumph of death and the 
last judgment by Andrea and Bernardo Orcagno 
in the Campo Santo at Pisa, and in the Strozzi 
chapel of Santa Maria Novella at Florence, we 
find Charon the grim ferryman of souls, a triple- 
necked Pluto as the personification of hell swallow- 
ing the damned, Cerberus devouring the envious, 
the morasses of the Styx, the bull-headed anthro- 
pophagous Minotaur, in short the whole scenery 
of the lower world as conceived by the poets of 
classical antiquity and seen through mediaeval eyes. 

The peacock, being sacred to Juno, became a 
symbol of the apotheosis of Roman empresses, as 
Jupiter's eagle was of Roman emperors. For this 
reason these birds were carved on the tombs of the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 3 1 1 

apotheosized, and on funeral lamps. From pagan 
monuments of the dead they passed to Christian 
sepulchres, on which they signified the Christian's 
conception of apotheosis, the ascension of the 
sanctified soul and its union with God. Owing 
to the belief that the flesh of the peacock was 
incorruptible, this fowl was made an emblem of 
the resurrection of the dead, sown in corruption, 
but raised in incorruption. On this point Augustine 
says {De Civ. Dei, xxi. 4) : " Quis enim nisi Deus 
creator omnium dedit carni pavonis mortui ne 
putrescerent ? " " For who except God, the Creator 
of all things, endowed the flesh of the dead pea- 
cock with the power of never decaying ? " There 
is a tradition that the acute and inquisitive suffra- 
gan of Hippo experimented with the flesh of 
this fowl, and found the popular superstition to 
be correct. 

The splendour of its plumage made it also an 
emblem of the glories 
of heaven. In many 
mediaeval paintings, 
for example, in Hans 
Memling's picture of 

. « T *- T .-I +- P^^cocks. {Psalter of Isabella of France,) 

in the Dorothy Chapel of St. Mary's Church in 
Dantzig, the angels have peacocks' feathers in their 
wings. The Christian moralist, however, in his con- 
demnation of all sensual beauty as diabolical in its 
origin and influence, prefers in general to indicate 
and emphasize the imperfections and less attractive 

3 1 2 Animal Symbolism 

features of the bird, which it endeavours to conceal 
under its showy qualities. Thus, in Freidank's 
Bescheidenheit (p. 43), the peacock is said to have 
the slinking gait of a thief, the voice of the devil, 
and an angel's garb — 

" der pMwe diebes sliche hit, 
tiuvels stimme, und engels wit." 

On account of this peculiarity of its walk it is 
called Petitpas (" Mincing-step ") in the Roman de 
Renart. The striking contrast between the ugly 
feet, the awkward movement, the harsh strident 
cry of the peacock, and its brilliant hues furnished 
material for moralization exceedingly welcome to 
didactic poets and homilists.^ 

The Physiologus says that when the peacock 
wakes suddenly in the night, it cries out as if in 
distress, because it dreams that it has lost its 
beauty, thus typifying the soul, which in the night 
of this sinful world is constantly fearing to lose the 
good gifts and graces with which God has endowed 
it. In the bestiaries a man devoid of prudence is 
likened to a peacock that has lost its tail ; because, 
as the author argues, the tail of the peacock 
denotes foresight, since the tail being behind is 
that which is to come ; and foresight is the faculty 
of taking heed to that which is to come. As a 
burlesque on all reasoning from analogy, nothing 
could be better than this. 

' Cf. Victor Hehn, Kulturpflanzen und Hausthiere, Berlin, 
1874, p. 311. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 313 

The Christian version of the story of Argus and 
lo is an excellent example of the naive manner 
in which classical myths were diverted from their 
natural course into the channel of moral and 
religious instruction. "There was once a lady 
who had a very beautiful cow. In order that it 
might not be stolen, she hired a herdsman named 
Argus, who had a hundred eyes, but slept with 
only two at a time, and kept watch with all the 
others. Nevertheless her precaution was of no 
avail, and she lost her cow. For a certain man, 
who coveted the animal, had a son called Mercurius, 
who was very skilful in playing on a long, hollow 
reed. This clever young man took occasion to 
visit Argus, and began to talk about one thing and 
another and to play on his pipe ; and as he went 
on talking and playing, Argus fell, asleep at first 
with two eyes, then with four, and so on until finally 
the hundred eyes were all closed in slumber. 
Thereupon Mercurius cut off the head of the 
herdsman, and drove away the cow to his father. 
This incident is an admonition and a warning for 
us. We are Argus, and the cow is our precious 
soul, which we are set to keep with vigilance, and 
the hundred eyes are the good deeds and pious 
services by which the safety of the soul is secured. 
The man who wished to steal the cow is the 
devil; and his son and emissary lulls us to sleep 
by luxury, pride, vicious habits, and worldly 
pleasures, and at last carries away the soul captive, 
and delivers it to his father, the author of all evil.' 


Ariimal Symbolism 

Myth of Argus. {Bestiary.) 

A miniature of this scene from the Arsenal manu- 
script has been published by 
Cahier(J///. (TArch., II. xx. 
AB), and it is easy to con- 
ceive how by such a process 
of transformation all the 
fables of pagan m)^hology 
might serve as apt illustra- 
tions of Christian teachings, 
and appropriate decorations of Christian archi- 

In the Septuagint the word o-eip^res occurs 
frequently where owls and ostriches are spoken of 
in the English version. Thus the prophet Isaiah 
(xiii. 21-22) is made to declare that "sirens and 
satyrs shall dance in Babylon, and onocentaurs 
and demons shall dwell in their habitations." The 
sirens are said to be of three kinds : half woman 

sirens. {Psalter of Isabella of France^ 

and half fish, half woman and half bird, and half 
woman and half ass. Some play on flutes, others 
on harps, and others sing, attracting men by the 
sweetness of their music, lulling them to sleep and 
rending them in pieces. They symbolize the power 
of female blandishment, and the allurements of the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 315 

flesh, and are often portrayed in missals and on 
different parts of ecclesiastical edifices. The ship 
of Ulysses sailing by the island of the sirens, 
himself bound to the mast, and the ears of the 
mariners stopped with wax, was a favourite subject 
with ancient artists, who delineated the scene on 
gems, mosaics, urns, and vases. In Christian art 
the ship of the wandering king of Ithaca was 
transformed into the ship of the Church, which 
bears those who entrust themselves to its care and 
keeping safely through the temptations of the 
world. Thus in the crypt of Santa Lucia, in the 
catacombs of Callistus, is a representation of 
Ulysses and the sirens, which St. Maximus of 
Turin interprets as a Christian allegory. " This 
ship," he says, "is the Church, and the mast 
symbolizes the cross of Christ, to which the faith- 
ful must cling in order to escape the seductions of 
the senses. As our Lord Jesus Christ was nailed 
to the cross, and remained sinless among tempta- 
tions, so let us navigate the perilous sea of life as 
if our ears were stopped." 

As servants and messengers of Proserpina the 
sirens, like the Scandinavian Valkyrias, carried the 
souls of the departed to Hades, and were therefore 
often sculptured on tombs and cinerary urns, usually 
playing musical instruments. On the sepulchres 
of illustrious orators like Isocrates or eminent 
poets like Sophocles, the sirens personified the 
magic power and irresistible persuasiveness of 
eloquence and the charms of poetry, which capti- 

3 1 6 Animal Symbolism 

vate the souls of men. Patristic theologians and 
exegetists confounded sirens and mermaids, and 
believed them to be real creatures expressly in- 
tended to serve as deterrent types of carnal 
appetites and sensual enticements. In mediaeval 
poetry the siren symbolizes the delusive fascinations 
of this world, which Konrad von Wiirzburg by a 
bold metaphor calls "die syrene triigesam" ("the 
deceitful siren "), from whose allurements the holy 
Virgin rescues us on the voyage of life, and brings 
us safely to the haven of eternal rest. 

The siren is often represented in sacred art with 
a fish in her hand, signifying the soul held in the 
grip of libidinous passion, as for example on the 
capitals of some of the columns in St Germain 
des Pr^s, the oldest of the Parisian churches; in 
the arcades of the cloister of St. Aubin, where the 
siren has a fish in one hand and a knife in the 

siren presenting a Fish to a man. 
(Church at CunauU-sur-Loire.) 

other ; on capitals in the churches at Civaux, where 
the siren is handing the fish to a man in a boat, 
while another is plunging from the opposite side 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 317 

of the boat into the sea, as though he feared the 
seductress even when bringing gifts, and risked his 
life to save his soul; and at Cunault-sur-Loire, 
where a similar scene is represented, the man in 
the boat receiving the fish with an affrighted mien, 
and his companion standing in a deprecating 
attitude on the shore. This sculpture dates from 
the twelfth century. Sirens are carved on the 
stalls of the chancel in the cathedral of Poitiers 
and in Notre Dame of Rouen, in the church of 
St. Nicholas at Anclam, and on the portal of the 
Schottenkirche in Ratisbon; also winged virgins 
with birds' legs and tails adorn the four corner 
pillars which support the candelabra wrought in 
bronze by Peter Vischer. 

In classical mythology centaurs were associated 
with sirens in Bacchanal processions and orgies, 
because they both embodied and symbolized over- 
ruling animal impulses and passions. They dis- 
charged similar functions as agents of the gods of 
the lower world, and for this reason were sculptured 
on pagan sarcophagi and other funeral monuments, 
from which they were borrowed by Christians, who 
conceived of them as demons armed with bows and 
arrows, and going about annoying believers and 
assailing them with what Paul calls " the fiery darts 
of the wicked." 

St. Jerome records that when St. Anthony, in the 
ninetieth year of his age, went to visit Paul the 
Hermit in the desert, he met a creature half man 
and half horse. The saint made the sign of the 

3 1 8 Animal Symbolism 

cross, as a protection against diabolical influences, 
and then inquired the way to Paul's hermitage. 
Thereupon the strange hybrid uttered some harsh 
semi-articulate whinnying sounds, and, pointing with 
his right hand in the proper direction, galloped off. 
Jerome maintains that this apparition was an emis- 
sary of Satan sent to frighten St. Anthony, and to 
deter him from his purpose ; but if this theory be 
correct, the willingness with which the devil's agent 
acted as a guide-post and helped the holy man 
on his way is rather remarkable. The monks 
were wont to people the desert, and other lonely 
places in which they dwelt, with monstrous shapes 
or entrancing visions, like those which so sorely 
tempted St. Anthony, products of their own sup- 
pressed but ineradicable passions, and abortions of 
an imagination morbidly excited by asceticism and 

The centaur figures very frequently in architec- 
ture from the tenth to the sixteenth century, espe- 
cially on the doors of churches. Thus, in the reliefs 
on the bronze doors of Augsburg Cathedral one 
centaur is shooting at a man and another at a lion ; 
on a frieze in the church at Brenz are reliefs of cen- 
taurs shooting arrows, and the same subject is on 
the bronze doors of St. Sophia in Novgorod; on 
the west side of St. John's, in Gmiind, is a centaur 
with a knife; on the portal of St. Gilles are two 
centaurs, one shooting at a stag and another pur- 
suing a lion ; on the portal of St. Trophine at 
Aries we find seven reliefs of centaurs shooting at 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 319 

lions, and of men fighting with divers wild beasts, 
illustrating the conflict of fierce passions, or men 
contending against their own lower natures, and 
trying to subdue them. In the cloister of Zurich 
Minster are two female centaurs, one shooting 
an arrow at a dragon, and the other thrusting 
a spear down its throat ; in the former cloister- 
church at Ibbenstadt in Wetterau, on the base of 
a pillar surmounted by a cross, is a centaur dis- 
charging an arrow into the extended jaws of a 
dragon ; in the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of our 
dear Lady) at Halberstadt are reliefs on the frieze 
of the stone enclosure of the chancel, representing 
female centaurs nursing their young, and male 
centaurs tearing each other's hair ; and in Freiburg 
Minster a man fighting a winged centaur with 
sword and shield, and a couple of female centaurs 
contending with similar weapons. It is not easy 
in every case to determine the precise spiritual 
significance of such scenes, and in some instances 
they are doubtless purely decorative, although a 
lingering tradition of the original symbolism of the 
centaur underlies them all, and accounts for the 
introduction of these fabulous monsters even as 
merely ornamental forms. 

Dante {Inf., xii.) condemns Ihose who have 
been guilty of deeds of violence against life and 
property, Alexander, Attila, and other great con- 
querors and ravagers of the earth, to suffer for 
their crimes in a turbulent stream of boiling blood, 
guarded by centaurs armed with darts, and running 

320 Animal Symbolism 

along the shore ; and Vergil {^n., vi. 286) is met 
by them as he is about to enter the lower world, 
where they seem to have acted as warders of the 
gate to the nether regions. In Bernardo Orcagna's 
famous fresco of the Last Judgment in the Strozzi 
Chapel of Santa Maria Novella, in Florence, which 
is essentially a pictorial illustration of Dante's de- 
scription of Inferno, the damned are pursued by 
centaurs. In the church of the Franciscan cloister 
at Assisi, on the groined arch over the grave of 
St, Francis, is a centaur painted by Giotto as a 
symbol of self-will, together with other frescoes by 
the same master, representing allegorical figures of 
poverty, chastity, obedience, prudence, humility, and 
kindred virtues with which the saint was_SBppeeed 
t o hdvc -Jjeea pre-eminently endowed. In a painting 
by Andrea Mantegna in the gallery of the Louvre 
the vices are delineated as satyrs and centaurs; 
and on a stoup by Jacopo della Querela in the 
cathedral of Sienna are reliefs of David rending the 
jaws of a lion and Hercules slaying a centaur, 
forming a part of a series of sculptures giving the 
history of creation from the birth of light to the 
expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of 
Eden. In older works of Christian art, which have 
for their subject the fall of man, centaurs often 
appear as personifications of criminal impulses 
rashly and recklessly obeyed. At a later period, 
like other real or fabulous creatures, they gradually 
lost their symbolical meaning, and were used for 
satirical purposes in accordance with the general 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 321 

law of degeneracy that governs this hieroglyphic 
mode of expression. Thus, on some of the seats 
of the stalls in the choir of Bale Minster, belonging 
to the end of the fifteenth century, are carvings of 
centaurs with the heads of bishops and of merry- 
making monks and nuns, and other caricatures of 
the clergy. 

In the crypt of the cathedral at Freising, near 
Munich in Bavaria, is a column adorned on all 
sides with sculptures of the eleventh century, repre- 
senting the chief incidents of the old German myth 
of Sigurd (Siegfried). In the first group two per- 
sons — one in armour, and wearing spurs (Sigurd), 
and the other in a kirtle (Regino) — are slaying the 
dragon. Next we see a naked man letting himself 
down into the jaws of the dead dragon ; it is Sigurd 
bathing himself in the dragon's blood, which would 
render him invulnerable. A branch of leaves hang- 
ing down covers a part of his shoulder, and indi-; 
cates the fatal spot which remained unwashed by 
the monster's blood, and therefore capable of being 
wounded. Two birds are perched on the capital 
of the column. An animal, probably an ichneumon 
(also a legendary killer of monsters in the form of 
crocodiles), is rushing into the jaws of another 
dragon resembling an alligator. On the fourth 
side is a woman with long hair, a valkyrie, or 
perhaps Brunhild. The legend of Sigurd symbol- 
ized the vernal freshness and vigour of the sun 
slaying the ^ demon of winter, and freeing earth's 
treasures from its icy grasp, and was therefore easily 



Animal Symbolism 

turned into the channel of 
Christian ethics and theology, 
and made to signify the re- 
deeming power of the Sun 
of Righteousness. For this 
reason scenes from it are fre- 
quently found depicted on 
monuments of Christian art. 
In Norway the Sigurd Saga 
seems to have been a favourite 
theme of Christian architects, 
and the adventures of this old 
Scandinavian ideal of heroic 
valour and strength were fre- 
quently carved on the door- 
posts and stalls of sacred edi- 
fices, especially in the southern 
provinces. The most com- 
plete of these delineations 
are the curious wood-carvings 
from the portal of the church 
at Hyllestad, in Saetersdal, 
now in the University collec- 
tion of Northern Antiquities 
at Christiania, and dating 
probably from the thirteenth 
century. The scenes repre- 
sented are as follows : i. The 
smith, Regino, forges the 
sword "Nothung," while Si- 
gurd blows the bellows. 


Siegfried Saga. (Fyetsins^.y 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 323 


Siegfried Saga. (Freisinff.) 

) 2. Sigurd tests the sword by 
smiting the anvil in twain, 
3. Sigurd slays Fafnir the 
dragon. 4. Sigurd cuts Faf- 
nir's heart in three pieces and 
roasts them on a spit; while 
Regino is asleep Sigurd touches 
one of the pieces with his finger 
to see if it is done ; as the juice 
of the roast is hot he licks his 
finger, and thus gets a taste of 
it, and is able to understand 
the language of the birds which 
are singing in the branches 
above his head. The steed 
Grane is also visible, laden with 
the Andvaregold, known as 
the Rhinegold or Nibelungen 
Hort (treasure). 5. Sigurd 
kills Regino, whose meditated 
treachery has been revealed to 
him by the birds. 6. Gunnar 
is lying in a pit of serpents 
with his hands bound, and 
playing a harp with his feet 
in order to charm the venom- 
ous reptiles and render them 
innoxious ; one of them, how- 
ever, is of the kind mentioned 
by the Psalmist, "which will 
not hearken to the voice of 


Animal Symbolism 

charmers, charming never 
so wisely," and has bitten 
him. This last legend is 
more fully rendered on two 
carved planks from the por- 
tal of the church at Austad 
(Saetersdal), where we find 
two scenes from the Gjukun- 
gasaga: Hogne's heart is 
cut out of his breast by Atle 
and shown to the brother of 
the slain, Gunnar, who is 
exposed to serpents, and 
plays the harp with his feet. 
The portal of the church at 
Vegusdal, also in Saetersdal, 
is adorned with delineations 
of Sigurd's exploits similar 
in character, but less fully 
represented. Indeed, as we 
have already stated, more 
or less fragmentary episodes 
of old Norse Saga-cycles 
are found in a great number 
of churches, as, for example, 
at Nesland in Thalemarken, 
at Hemsedal in Hallingdal, 
at Lardal in Jarlsberg, at 
Opdal in Numedal, and 
elsewhere. A carving at 
Lardal represents the ex- 

Siegfried Saga. (Freising.) 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 325 


\ piation made for the death 
of the otter by heaping up 
gold sufficient to cover its 
skin ; round its neck is the 
fatal Andvare ring. In the 
church of Hitterdal, a re- 
markably interesting speci- 
men of the Norwegian 
" stavekirker " of the twelfth 
century, are decorative carv- 
ings of Sigurd and Gunnar 
riding up the mountain 
towards the spot where 
Brynhildr ( Brunhild ) is 
asleep, encircled with a 
barrier of fire, and, as they 
return, Sigurd holds the ring 
of Andvare in his hand. 
Doubtless many monuments 
of this kind, formerly exist- 
ing in Scandinavia and in 
other northern countries, have 
perished. Fragments of sculp- 
tures treating the Sigurd 
Saga in the manner already 
described may be seen still, 
although in a very mutilated 
condition, on a cross-shaft at 
Kirk Andreas, in the Isle of 
Siegfried Saga. (FrcMng.) * Cf. Dr. L. Dietrichson and H. 


Animal Symbolism 

Christianity, it must be 
remembered, was forced upon 
the Norwegians by sove- 
reigns who, like King Olaf 
Tryggvason, had been con- 
verted in foreign lands, and 
endeavoured to introduce the 
new religion in a summary 
manner by royal decree. 
There was no change, how- 
ever, in the religious beliefs 
of the masses of the people, 
who continued to worship the 
ancestral gods and to revere 
the mythical and semi-myth- 
ical heroes whose deeds, as 
celebrated in ancient songs 
and sagas, were anything but 
illustrations of Christian vir- 
tues. Chief of these popular 
demi-gods was Sigurd, the 
most perfect embodiment of 
the Norseman's conception 
of manly force and fearless- 
ness. Even Christian priests 
themselves were not wholly 
free from this feeling, and 

Munthe, Die Holzbaukunst Nor- 
•wegens in Vergangenheit und 
Gegenwart, Berlin, 1893, pp. 25-27; 
Journal of the British Archceologi- 
cal Association, vol. xliii., p. 260. 

Sigurd Saga. (HylUstad.) 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 327 

Sigurd Saga. (Hyllcstad.) 

cherished a lingering fond- 
ness for the outworn creeds 
and discarded superstitions 
of their fathers. Partly as 
an expression of this senti- 
ment, and partly as a matter 
of policy, Sigurd, the slayer 
of Fafnir, was made to sym- 
bolize Christ, the subduer of 
Satan, or was regarded as 
the pagan prototype of the 
Christian dragon-killers, St. 
George and St. Michael, and 
placed at the portal of the 
church as its protector. By 
the same process of adapta- 
tion and assimilation Gunnar 
in the serpents' pit came to 
typify man in the bondage 
of sin, trying to comfort 
himself and to calm his 
conscience by resorting to 
worldly pleasures, but 
doomed to spiritual death. 
Another favourite theme 
of mediaeval art was the 
weighing of souls, which 
plays such a prominent and 
decisive part in the eschato- 
logy of the ancient Egyp- 
tians, on whose sepulchral 

328 Animal Symbolism 

monuments the Supreme Judge is seen determining 
the worth of souls by weight, and condemning 
each to be reimbodied in the animal form to 
which the habits of life cultivated in a previous 
existence rendered it best suited. Thus a glutton is 
scourged with rods by cynocephali, who are re- 
conducting his spirit to the earth, where it is 
doomed to pass its next period of incarnation 
as a hog. Most probably, however, the mediaeval 
artist knew nothing of the Egyptian method of 
procedure in determining the destiny of souls, but 
simply intended to illustrate the words of Daniel 
to King Belshazzar : " Thou art weighed in the 
balances, and art found wanting ;" although this 
metaphorical phrase is evidently based upon the 
Oriental conception of the method by which retri- 
butive justice is meted out in accordance with the 
theory of metempsychosis. 

In a bas-relief on a church at Velay an angel is 
engaged in weighing souls ; the devil in the shape 
of a pig is carrying off a woman, whose virtues 
have been found of too light a quality, and keeping 
one eye -on the scales to see that the angel does not 
cheat him out of the rest of the ponderable wares. 
It is a competition in which neither will bate the 
other even one poor scruple. In a sculpture of the 
thirteenth century on the portal of the church at 
Louques, in the province of Aveyron, the devil is 
slyly touching the beam with his finger in order 
to make it incline in his favour ; and in a stained 
window of the cathedral of Bourges we see the 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 329 

arch-fiend putting his foot on the scale and pressing 
the lever with his hand, while one of his imps is 
pulling at it from be- 
low so as to make the 
side of virtue kick the 
beam. Here the good 
and evil qualities are 
incarnate cis heads. 
A relief on the pedi- 
ment over a doorway | 
of the cathedral of 
Autun represents a 

crowd of naked and weighing Souls. [Bmrges Cathedral.) 

clawfooted devils eagerly watching a balance, in one 
scale of which are the vices of the soul incorporate 
in a hideously-deformed creature, and in the other 
scale its virtues personified by a young child under 
the protection of a lean and lank angel in exceed- 
ingly stiff and angular drapery. Here, too, the devil 
in charge tries to push the doubtful beam, but is 
caught in the act and thwarted by the vigilant 
angel. Behind the devil stands a long procession 
of trembling souls, and in the background a fiery 
furnace, into which a serpent-headed imp as stoker 
is vigorously thrusting those who have been found 
deficient in saving qualities. In Egyptian escha- 
tology the office of weighing souls was performed 
by Osiris and Typhon ; in Christian art the function 
of balancing good and evil deeds and thus deter- 
mining the future destiny of men is commonly 
assigned to the archangel Michael and Satan. 

330 Animal Symbolism 

Sometimes the scales are held by the hand of God 
reaching out of the clouds, as, for example, on the 
arch of the principal doorway of the cathedral of 
Autun, and on a capital in the church of Saint-Croix 
in Saint-L6; usually, however, it is St. Michael 
who superintends this weighty business, and pre- 
vents any cheating on the part of the great deceiver. 
There is a vivid representation of this scene on the 
portal of St. Trophine in Arles-sur-Rhone (eleventh 
century), where the good souls under the care of 
the tutelar archangel mount upwards and join the 
assembly of the elect in heaven, while the bad ones 
are seized by a gigantic demon, who already has 
two in his clutch, holding them with their heads 
downward. Essentially similar scenes are 'sculp- 
tured on the portals of the cathedral St. Nicholas 
at Fribourg in, Switzerland, the metropolitan church 
Notre-Dame-de-Paris, the old cathedral church of 
Bazas in Gironde, and in many other ecclesiastical 

On the portal of the minster at Bonn are sculp- 
tured an angel and a devil, each diligently writing 
in a scroll held on the knee ; and cowering between 
the ribs of the arch of the famous pulpit in B&le 
Minster (hewn in i486 in the form of a Gothic 
chalice out of a single stone) is a devil busily 
engaged in taking notes, not probably of the sermon, 
but of the conduct of the congregation ; underneath 
is the inscription Prope est dies Domini (" the day 
of the Lord is near "). In a fresco painting of the 
thirteenth century in the cathedral of Freising 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 331 

depicting the Last Judgment the archangel Michael 
and Satan are each presenting their books to 
Christ; this picture might serve as an illustration 
to the fine Latin hymn also of the thirteenth 
century, and ascribed to the Franciscan monk 
Thomas of Celano — 

" Liber scriptus proferetur, 
In quo totum continetur, 
Ex quo mundus judicetur. 

Judex ergo cum sedebit, 
Quidquid latet apparebit, 
Nil inultum remanebit." 

In Indian mythology of the Post-Vedic period 
it is Yama who fixes the fate of the soul after 
hearing the report of his secretary Chitragupta, 
who keeps a strict record of human actions in a 
book called Agrasandh^ni. Sometimes, however, 
in works of art this clerk is represented as weighing 
a person with a steelyard in the presence of the 
Judge of the Dead. 

Characteristically enough, the procession waiting 
for judgment in Christian delineations of the scene 
consists almost entirely of women. The notion 
that woman is, in an emphatic and peculiar sense, 
the ally and satellite of Satan originated in the 
legend of the fall of man, and was strengthened by 
the institution of sacerdotal celibacy. By yielding 
to the suggestions of the devil she brought ruin 
upon the human race, and is still the most efficient 
agent of the evil one in disturbing the meditations 
of pious men. From her first appearance on the 

332 Animal Symbolism 

stage of history her seductive influence has been 
the cause of all the social, political, and domestic 
intrigues that have disturbed the peace and happi- 
ness of the world. " Cherchez la femme " is always 
a pertinent mandate in the presence of any such 
calamity. This prejudice was firmly rooted in the 
mediaeval mind, and finds drastic expression in the 
painting and sculpture as well as in the poetry 
and theology of that period. A troubadour of the 
thirteenth century, in a poem entitled Les Blasme 
des Fames, compares woman to various animals, 
each of which is distinguished for some undesirable 
quality : she stings like a serpent, is fiery like a 
horse, double-natured like a dragon, deceitful like 
a fox, greedy like a bear, and loves darkness like 
a bat ; she is not even admitted to have that " ex- 
cellent thing in woman," a " voice ever soft, gentle, 
and low," but hoots and screeches like an owl — 

" Fame est huans, fame est fressaie." 

A picture in Notre Dame de Recouvrance in 
Brest portrays the devil noting down the idle 
words of two women, who are gossiping during 
mass. This subject is often treated in sculpture 
in the miniatures of manuscript missals and in the 
designs of tapestries, and is thus referred to in a 
poem written by Pierre de Grosnet in 1553 — 

" Notez en I'ecclise de Dieu, 
Femmes ensemble caquetoyent. 
Le diable y estoit en ung lieu 
Escripvant ce qu'elles disoyent. 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 333 

Son rollet plain de poinct en poinct, 
Tyre aux deus pour le faire croistre : 
Sa prinse eschappe et ne tient poinct, 
Au pillier s'en cobby la teste." 

On a gable-window of the Chateau de Villeneuve 
m Auvergne, dating from the sixteenth century, is 
a painting of three frightful devils forging the head 
of a woman, and three angels moulding the head of 
a man — the female head, being of diabolical work- 
manship, is full of diabolical propensities. The 
artists who conceived and executed such things, 
it must be remembered, were in the service of a 
Mariolatrous and yet misogynistic religion. In a 
carving in the church of Saint-Spire, in Corbeil, 
a woman has got the better of the devil, and is 
sawing off his infernal majesty's right ear. 

The devil is by no means a prominent figure in 
the oldest monuments of Christian art, and it is 
difficult to determine with precision when he began 
to claim the attention of painters and sculptors. 
The general panic produced by the belief that the 
end of the world was at hand, and that Christ 
would come to judge the quick and the dead in 
the year iocxd, caused the thoughts of men to turn 
more and more anxiously to the person of his 
satanic majesty, who was expected to play a pro- 
minent and fatal part in that final scene. In 
consequence of this state of fearful anticipation, 
we find the devil and his acolytes making their 
appearance in the latter half of the tenth and the 
beginning of the eleventh century on the capitals 

334 Animal Symboli'sin 

and friezes, the doorways and pediments of 
churches, frequently as human monsters with jagged 
wings and forked tail, or that hideous abortion of 
an affrighted imagination, the dragon. The object 
of such creations was to exert a religious influence 
by inspiring terror. But after the period so pain- 
fully looked forward to had passed, and the day of 
vengeance seemed to be indefinitely postponed, a 
reaction of feeling set in, and men began to treat 
the devil as a bugaboo to be ridiculed rather than 
to be dreaded. The imps which are sculptured in 
bas-relief on the churches of the fifteenth century 
are far more comical than terrible forms. They 
are devils who are fallen into dotage and visible 
decay, and with whom the artist can take all sorts 
of liberties, turning them into clowns and buffoons 
for the amusement of the populace. 

This tendency was intensified by the scepticism 
which attended the Renaissance movement and led 
to the Reformation, and was naturally and inevitably 
fostered by the success of these intellectual and 
ecclesiastical revolts. Luther's devil was a poor 
discrowned potentate, whom it was perfectly safe 
to deride and vilify. No hurling of inkstands 
would have sufficed to discomfit the devils of the 
tenth and eleventh centuries, nor would any good 
Christian of that day have ventured to address 
them in such offensive terms as Luther employs 
in his Table Talk, lest they should take him at his 
word and effect an anal possession of his person 
that would defy the most vigorous crepitus as a 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 335 

means of expulsion. Luther's attitude towards the 
prince of darkness, however bold and reckless it 
may seem, was in reality nothing but the cheapest 
and coarsest sort of swagger. The great devil in 
the pediment over the portal of the cathedral of 
Autun, belonging to the twelfth century, would 
have " grinned horribly a ghastly smile " at the 
scurrile scoffings and obscene jocularities in which 
the Wittenberg Reformer was so fond of indulging 
at the expense of the arch-fiend. 

As Maupertuis was passing through a cemetery, 
a friend, pointing to a heap of skulls, said, " What 
are they grinning at?" "At us who are living," 
was the reply. This is the moral of the Dance of 
Death. A Tyrolese priest, preaching to a congre- 
gation of peasants, naively remarked, "All men 
must die, even I myself." The grim skeleton is no 
respecter of persons, so far as riches and rank are 
concerned; the crown, the mitre, the tiara, the 
surplice, and the stole do not avail to ward off 
the inevitable fate. Death's touch paralyzes the 
strongest arm, and his scythe strikes through the 
heaviest helmet and pierces the network of the 
most impenetrable coat of mail. The artists who 
delineated such scenes enforced in the most em- 
phatic manner the doctrine of human equality so 
impressively taught by Hamlet in his churchyard 
soliloquy: "Now get you to my lady's chamber, 
and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this 
favour must she come." The lawyer with "his 
quiddits, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and 

336 Animal Symbolism 

his tricks," the jester with his gibes, his gambols, 
his songs, his " flashes of merriment, that were wont 
to set the table on a roar," pope, emperor, courtier, 
beggar, miser, spendthrift, knight, peasant, soldier, 
judge, and criminal — all join in the measured move- 
ment directed by the untiring and unrelenting 

The oldest Dance of Death of which we have 
any knowledge dates from 13 12, and was a fresco- 
painting in the cloister of Klingenthal at Little 
Bale, consisting of forty representations of the 
manner in which death arrests the activity and 
cuts short the career of all classes and conditions 
of men, and accompanied with explanatory verses. 
More than a hundred years later the churchyard 
of the Minorite cloister of the Innocents at Paris 
was adorned with similar scenes, "begun," as a 
contemporary record states, "in the month of 
August, 1424, and finished in the following Lent." 
It was called La Dance Macabre, and woodcuts 
of it were published in a volume printed at Paris 
in 1485, and bearing the title : Chorea ab exiniio 
Macabro versibus alemanicis edita, etc., from which 
it appears that the word Macabre was then sup- 
posed to be derived from a distinguished German 
poet, Macabrus, who composed the rhymes. Un- 
fortunately for this theory, no poet of this name 
ever existed in Germany, although he may have 
owed his origin to a confusion with Marcabrus, a 
Provengal poet of the fourteenth century, who, how- 
ever, sang wholly different themes. Nearly a dozen 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 337 

more or less ingenious interpretations have been 
given of this phrase, which is probably a transla- 
tion and corruption of the mediaeval Latin Chorea 
Machabmorum, so called because the seven Mac- 
cabean brothers with their mother were originally 
the principal characters in it, or because it was first 
celebrated in their honour on the day (August i) 
devoted by the Church to their memory as martyrs; 
for the Dance of Death was represented dramati- 
cally as well as pictorially, and was doubtless 
acted in cloisters and in public places long before 
it became the subject of artistic delineation. The 
verses explanatory of the oldest paintings are 
always in the form of a dialogue between the in- 
exorable destroyer and his victims, and may be 
regarded as fragments of the original play, 

In England, France, Germany, and Switzerland 
some fifty cities are mentioned as having had 
paintings of the Dance of Death, the most famous 
of which was that on the outer wall of the church- 
yard of the Dominican cloister in Great Bale, made 
in free imitation of the Klingenthal fresco about 
the middle of the fifteenth century, renovated by 
Hans Hugo Klauber in 1568, and ruthlessly de- 
stroyed by order of an over-zealous iconoclastic 
municipal council on account of its being " a terror 
to children and a bugaboo to the people" — "ein 
Kinderschreck und eine Leutescheuche." 

The libraries of Heidelberg, Munich, and Paris 
contain quite a number of manuscripts with minia- 
tures of the Dance of Death, some of which are 


338 Animal Symbolism 

really superb in execution, while others are crude 
in form, but not without a certain vigour of move- 
ment and vividness of expression. By far the 
finest delineation of this subject is Hans Holbein's 
Imago Mortis, the original drawings of which, now 
in St. Petersburg, are artistically as superior to all 
former productions of the kind as Goethe's Faust 
is to the folk-books and puppet-plays that describe 
the uncanny career of the medizeval master of the 
black art. Holbein's drawings were engraved on 
wood by Hans Lutzelburger. These cuts, the 
proof-impressions of which, published at Lyons 
and Bale, resemble the best work of the artist's 
pencil, and to which several posthumous sheets 
were added in the early part of the present cen- 
tury, have passed through more than a hundred 
editions, to say nothing of copies on copper and 
lithographic reproductions. 

In the Book of Hours of Geoffroy Tory are 
miniatures of a like character : the grim skeleton 
is mounted on a black horse, with a scythe on his 
shoulder, a folded letter in his hand, a raven, the 
ominous bird of Odin, flying over his head, and his 
pathway strewn with corpses. In a copper-plate 
by the Nuremberger Hans Sebastian Beham, dated 
1541, and bearing the inscription, Oinnem inJwmine 
venvstatem Mors abolet (" Death does away with 
all beauty in man "), Death in the guise of a 
court-fool surprises a richly-dressed maiden of patri- 
cian birth, while gathering a bouquet of flowers. 
Beham was a genial artist, but a lewd fellow. In 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 339 

the Berlin Museum is an engraving of Death look- 
ing with lustful emotions on a lascivious pair, on 
the margin of which are written these words: 
"propter quam picturam ex civitate ejectus est." 
His fellow-burghers were so outraged by this super- 
fluity of obsceneness that they compelled him to 
quit the city. After his exile he went rapidly from 
bad to worse, kept a brothel in Frankfort, and, in 
1550, was drowned in the Main. Well-preserved 
representations of Death's triumphs, painted by 
Meglinger in the sixteenth century, may still be 
seen in the pediments under the roof of the long 
wooden bridge (Spreuer Briicke) over the Reuss at 

The spirit of the Dance of Death is thoroughly 
democratic, and inculcates the doctrine of human 
equality in the most emphatic and impressive 
manner. The great leveller shows no considera- 
tion for rank or dignity ; the lowest is not beneath, 
nor the highest above his notice ; neither emperor 
nor pope can escape his dominion or refuse to obey 
his behest. He clutches the rich and powerful with 
a rude hand, gently lulls the infant to sleep, and 
closes the weary eyes of the poor and oppressed 
with a touch of tenderness and compassion. He 
delights to turn the tables on his victims, to make 
a mockery of human faculty and function, and 

" to have the engineer 
Hoist with his own petard." 

Thus he presents the monarch a fatal potion in a 
goblet set with jewels, capers with the king's jester 

340 Animal Symbolism 

towards an open grave, breaks the judge's staff of 
office over his head, strikes down the miser with 
his heavy bag of hoarded wealth, pierces the cook 
through with a spit, combats the cavalier on horse- 
back, tilts with a lance against the knight in the 
lists, plays the gallant with coquettes, catches the 
fowler in a snare, points to the doctor's pills and 
tinctures and bids him heal himself, seizes the 
apothecary in the midst of his drugs, snatches the 
priest from the altar as he is praying souls out of 
purgatory, gives the astronomer a skull in the form 
of a globe, and says to the astrologer, who casts 
the horoscope of others, but is ignorant of his own 

" Tu dis par amphibologie 
Ce qu'aux aultres doibt advenir ; 
Dys-moy done par astrologie 
Quand du debvras a moy venir.'' 

" You tell by amphibology 
What unto others is to be ; 
Now tell me by astrology 
When axej/ou to come to me." 

Honord de Sainte Marie, a popular and sensa- 
tional preacher of the latter half of the seventeenth 
century, was wont to take skulls into the pulpit 
and address them in the sarcastic moralizing style 
of Hamlet. To the skull of a judge he would say : 
" Speak now, hast thou not sold justice for gold, 
and refused to listen to the pleadings of the poor ? " 
The skull of a flirt he would apostrophize in the 
following strain : " Art thou not the head of one 
of those fair dames whose chief occupation was to 

In Ecclesiastical Architecture 341 

lay snares for human hearts., and to catch them 
with honeyed words as birds are taken with lime ? 
Well then, empty and musty sconce, where are 
those fine eyes, with their fond and furtive glances ? 
Where are those beautiful teeth, which bit so many 
hearts, and made them more easily devoured by the 
devil ? Where those delicate ears, into which fops 
have so lovingly whispered, seeking through these 
avenues easy access to the heart ? What has 
become of those lilies and roses, which thou didst 
suffer to be plucked by unchaste kisses ? " It 
would be interesting to know whether the idea of 
delivering such discourses was original with the 
French divine, or borrowed from Hamlet's medi- 
tations in the churchyard. The most probable 
supposition is that these sermons were suggested 
by the Dance of Death, inasmuch as the Shake- 
sperian dramas were little read and indeed hardly 
known in France at that time, and it was not until 
a much later period that they began to be generally 
appreciated even in England. 

It would be wholly foreign to the scope of the 
present work to consider at length the different 
forms in which death has been represented ih art. 
To the poetic imagination and fine cesthetic sense 
of the Greeks the genius of death was not a grim 
monster, but a graceful youth leaning on an inverted 
torch, the twin brother of sleep, as homer calls him, 
and it was not till the twelfth century of the Chris- 
tian era that he began to be personified and por- 
trayed as a mummy or a skeleton. The Dance of 

342 Animal Symbolism 

Death doubtless originated in the Dance of the 
Dead (Todtentanz, Danse des Morts), which accord- 
ing to popular superstition took place in church- 
yards at the ghostly hour of midnight. The 
remarkable fascination of the theme is evident 
from the frequency with which it has been por- 
trayed by modern artists, as, for example, by Alfred 
Rethel in six admirable xylographs of Death on 
the barricades and in revolutionary and reactionary 
contests suggested by the political events of 1848, 
in the woodcuts of I lie, Pocci, and Barth, the ex- 
cellent series of India-ink drawings by Otto Seitz, 
and the more recent and uncommonly clever 
sketches by Liihrig. In these and similar works 
Death figures as a working-man in a blouse preach- 
ing insurrection, as the " walking delegate " of a 
labour union organizing a general strike, as a Jesuit 
urging a monarch to resist by force of arms the will 
of the people, as a diplomatist seated at a table 
and kindling war by a single stroke of his pen, as a 
Swiss guide leading a company of tourists through 
a mist over a precipice, as a careless switchman 
plunging an express train into an abyss, and finally 
in the newest and most destructive rdle of an 
anarchist and dynamiter. 


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Abilard, his verse on the lion's 

whelp, 82 
Abraham, signifies faith, 67 ; sac- 
rificing Isaac, 84 
Actors, declared infamous, 263 
Adam, author of a natural history, 

SS. 56 
Adamant, type of Christ, 45 
Adamites, 114 

^<&/;S«'fl? of Louvraine, Queen, 71 
j^lia Capitolina, 294 
^lian, ontheremora, 125 ; on the 

ichneumon, 132 ; on the beaver, 


Aischyhis, ' Eumenides,' 299 

Aetites, or eagle-stone, 49 

Agate, virtue of, 35 ; worn in June, 
37 ; in pearl-fishing, 47 

Agntis Dei, in art, 308 

Agrasandhdni, Indian book of 
judgment, 331 

Aimeric de PregulJian, simile of 
the phoenix, 131 ; basilisk and 
mirror, 165 

Aix-la-Chapelle, Bacchanal and 
other p^an scenes in the min- 
ster of, 303 ; amethyst with the 
three Graces in the cross of 
Lothair, 308 

Alberttts Magnus, his criticism of 
the ' Physiologus,' 78 ; on the 
African viper's horn, 109 ; on 
the beaver, 139; on the wolf, 
151 ; on the basilisk, 169 

Albrecht von Brandenburg, 136 

Alces, or elks, described by Julius 
Caesar, 112 

Aldhelm, his parables, 66 

Alemannicgods,rs\eitA at Bregenz, 
307; destroyed by St. Callus, 

Alexander the Great, embalmed 
with honey, 4; services to 
science, 21 ; wisdom, 116 ; lover 
in ' Lai d'Aristote,' 226—228 

Alexander III., Pope, his salaman- 
der tunic, 142 

Alexander VI., Pope, his coat-of- 
arms, 201 ; scandalous life, 202 

^&i:««i/Wa, schools of, II, 16, 26; 
commerce and culture under the 
Ptolemies, 1 1, 25 ; libraries and 
learning, 26 

All Souls' Day, pagan feast of the 
dead, 264 

Almond, symbolism of the flower- 
ing, 166, 167 

Able, sculptures on the doorway of 
church at, 50, 51; eagle, 118; 
whale, 124; panther, 135; 
hyena, 142 ; charadrius, 146 ; 
antelope, 174 

Amboise, church of St. Denis, 
foxes as pilgrims witnessing the 
slaughter of the Innocents, 211 ■ 

Ambrosius, the "mellifluous," 3; 
allegorical exegesis, 40 ; on the 
viper and lamprey, 55 ; Latin 
' Physiologus' attributed to, 64 ; 



on locusts as Gentiles, 167 ; 
symbolism of animals, 1 85 

Amethyst, anti-inebriant virtue of, 
35 ; associated with February, 
37 ; in the New Jerusalem, 39 

Amianthus, supposed to be sala- 
mander's skin, 142 

Amiens Cathedral, Virtues and 
Vices personified, 153; Samson, 
192 ; fox preaching to fowls, 212 

Amor, his duel with and likeness 
to a bee, 2 ; Amor and Psyche 
as Christian emblems, 309 

Amorozzo da Firenze, lady-love 
likened to a lion, 93 

Amphitheatre, sports of, 23 

Amsdorf, Nicholas von, letter to 
Luther, 203 

Anacreon, Eros compared to a 
bee, 1 

Anastasius Sinaita, his anagogical 
contemplations, 61 

Anclam, sirens in St. Nicholas', 


Ancona, lion in church at, 87 

Andely, Henri d", his ' Lai d'Aris- 
tote' cited, 226, 228 

Andvaregold, 323, 325 

Angoutnois, asinine catechism of, 
268, 269 

Animals, primitive superstitions 
about, 8 ; prophetic movements 
of, 9 ; early worship of, 10 ; 
corrupted by Adam's fall, 29 ; 
. redeemed and regenerated by 
Christ's death, 30 ; Roman 
passion for pets, 24 ; occult and 
magical properties of, 26 ; as 
human mirrors and heavenly 
prototypes, 27, 28, 30 ; in 
•Oriental literature and especi- 
ally in Buddhistic teachings, 30 
— 33 ; in Christian art, 53 ; 
Roger Bacon's theory of their 
place in Scripture, 58 ; as 
symbols of the conflict between 
Christianity and paganism, 130 ; 

used to illustrate opposite quali- 
ties, 91, 109, 131 ; an initial 
and capital letters, 152 ; their 
prominence in Church ornament- 
ation of the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries, 179, 180; protests 
against their presence in sacred 
places, 180 — 185 ; ethical and 
satirical purposes of, 185 — 188, 
193 — 19s ; caricaturing religious 
rites, 188 ; fanciful and grotesque 
delineations of, 216 — 226, 232 
— 245 ; in satirical delineations, 
320 ; woman compared to differ- 
ent, 332 

Annunciation, symbolized by the 
chase of the unicorn, 96 ; auri- 
cular conception in pictures of 
the, 98 — 100 

Anselm, cited, 40 

Ant, pattern for Buddhist ascetic, 

Antelope, symbolism of, 173 ; in 

poetry and art, 1 74 
Anti-Semitism, in art, 19, 289 — 

Anti-Semitic satire, 292 — 294, 

Ape, ridden by Avarice, 163 ; in 

sacred architecture, 186, 189, 

215, 218, 219, 223, 23s 
Apis, sacred bull, sign of, 14 
Apocalypse, monsters of the, 30, 

Apollo, the purifier, 299 ; as Elias, 


April, consecrated to Venus, 121 

Apuleius, cited, 139 

Aqua marine, associated with 
October, 37 

Architects, secular, supplant monk- 
ish, 186 

' Areopagiiica,' Milton's, cited, 121 

Argonauts, purified by swine's 
blood, 299 

Argus and lo, Christian apologue 
of, 313. 314 



Arians, banished, 238 

Ariosio, on lovers symbolized by 
eaglets, 119, 120 

Aristotle, scientific study of nature, 
22 ; Christianization of, 43 ; 
fable of eagle's beak, 119; in 
discussion with Logic, 154; 
ridiculed in ' Lai d'Aristote,' 
226 — 228 

Aries, synod of, 252; centaurs in 
St. Trophine's, 318 ; weighing 
souls, 330 

Arsenal Library, bestiaries in, 

Art, Christian imitates pagan, 309 

Ascension, celebration of, 265 

Ass, type of humility, 31 ; as 
monk or priest, 186, 189 ; in 
architecture, 194 ; papal, 195 — 
203 ; with rosary, 241 — 
243 ; as the homologue of the 
cathedral, 267 ; in the Angou- 
mois catechism, 268 ; Feast of 
the, 265, 267, 271 — 280; wor- 
shipped by Jews and Christians, 
270 ; superiority of the Oriental, 
269 ; drawing of ass-worship in 
the Palatine, 270; of St. 
Bernard, and other effigies in 
churches, 271 ; litany of the, 
272 — 277 ; symbol of the 
Saviour, 278 ; tradition of the 
"true," 272; interpretation of 
the litany of the, 278 ; type of 
the Jews, 279 

Assist, Giotto's centaur in cloister 
at, 320 

Atle, cutting out the heart of 
Hogne, 324 

Atonement, symbolized by a simple 
cross, 308 

Augsburg, lion in cathedral of, 82 ; 
centaurs, 318 

Augustine, cited, 38, 87, 88, 91, 
92 ; on auricular conception, 99 ; 
on the pelican, 128 ; cited, 185 ; 
on the peacock's flesh, 311 

Aidnay, ass as priest in St. Peter's 
church, 225, 277 

Austad, Siegfried saga, 324 

Autun, fox and crane in cathedral 
of, 209; weighing souls, 329, 
330 ; devil, 335 

Ativergne, devils and angels forg- 
ing heads, 333 

Avesta, appreciation of the dog in 
the, 91 

Aveyron, devil weighing souls, 

Avicenna, cited, 43 

Bacchtis, type of the Christian 
vineyard, 301, 303, 308 

Bacon, Roger, his spiritual interpre- 
tation of natural things, 58 

B&le, carvings in minster : phoenix 
and pelican, 129; Jews and sow, 
297 ; Pyramus and Thisbe, 304, 
305 ; centaurs with heads of 
bishops, monks, and nuns, 321 ; 
devil and angel taking notes, 
330 ; ' Dance of Death,' 337 

Bale, lohn, on the Romish fox, 

Bamberg, queer religious relics in, 

286, 287 
Barbazan, Etienne, his collection of 

fables and tales, 226 
Bar-Cochba, revolt of, 294 
Barlaam und Josaphat. See Rti- 

dolfvon Ems 
Barnabas, his epistle cited, on 

Judaism, 53 ; on the symbolism 

of Abraham, 67 ; on the hyena, 

140 ; on the prefiguration of the 

cross, 249 
Barnacle geese, symbolism of, 174, 

Bar Shalom, Jiabbi Jehuda, his 

apologue on circumcision, 262 
Barth, his ' Dance of Death,' 342 
Bartholomceus Anglicus, cited, 74 
Basil the Great, his 'Hexaheme- 

ron ' cited, 18, 55, 57 
A A 



Basilisk, symbolism of the, 163 — 

166 ; represents Antichrist, 167 ; 

metliod of killing it, 164, 168 ; 

in the abbey of V^zelai, 166, 

Bastard, M. de, on the snail, 218 
Batrachitians, heretical sect, 238 
Bayonne, wooden ass in Saint- 

Esprit's at, 271 
Bazas Cathedral, weighing souls, 

Bear, type of Satan, 88; in the 

beast-epos, 189, 214, 215 
Beast-epos in architecture, 185 ; 

used for polemical purposes, 193; 

scenes from, 213 — 222, 235, 236 
Beasts of ill-omen, in churches and 

cloisters, 179, 180 
Beauvais, ass's feast in, 277 
Beaver, symbolism of, 138 ; in art, 

Bebenhausen, lion in cloister, 83 

Becket. See Thomas h Becket 

Beda, cited, 66 ; on locusts sym- 
bolizing Gentiles, 166 

Bee, Eros compared to a, I; sym- 
bol of immortality on tombs, 
otherwise rare in Christian art, 
3 ; in Greek, Oriental, and 
modem poetry, I — 3; hive typi- 
cal of the cloister with the 
Virgin Mary as queen bee, 3 ; 
Christ the asthereal and Krishna 
the azure bee, 4 ; in Somadeva's 
tales, S ; relief in the baptistery 
of Parma, 5 ; golden bee sym- 
bolic of sovereignty, 4 ; symbol- 
ism of a broken bee-hive, 223. 
See Honey 

Beghards, vagabond monks satir- 
ized, 233 

Biguines, their licentiousness 
scourged, 187 

Beham, Hans Sebastian, his repre- 
sentation of Death, 338 

Bell, symbolism of the church, 
524 — 256 ; bells of the Gospel 

and trumpets of the Law, 255 ; a 

terror to demons, 257 
Bellerophon, 301 
Belli, Valeria, his phoenix in 

enamel, 130 
Bellona, relief in a church at Trier, 


Benedict IX., 220 

Benedictines, other orders hated 
and satirized by them, 225, 231 

Benjochai, Rabbi Simon, \as fable 
on the Sabbath, 262 

Berbezilh, Richard de, cited, 93 

Berlin Museum, painting by 
Lucas Cranach, i ; Beham's 
representation of Death, 339 

Bernard of Clainiaux, cited, 3 ; 
his protest against fabulous beasts 
in cloisters, 180, i8i, 183 — 185 ; 
an ass and arch-priest, 225 ; ass 
of, 271 ; cited, 278 

Bemardines, satirical works of art 
in their cloisters, 225 

Beryl, virtues of, 37, 39 

Bestiaries, Waldensian, 49; chief 
source of the, 59 ; French, 71 ; 
Tusco- Venetian, 73 ; codices in 
Italian libraries, 73, 74 ; ' Besti- 
aire Divin' (see William of Nor- 
mandy) ; English bestiary on 
the panther, 133 ; derivation of 
panther in the, 137 ; on the 
wolf, 150. See 'Bhysiologus' {or 
animals mentioned in the besti- 

Bethlehem, star of, 278; relics of 
rays from star of, 289 

Beverly, carving of animals in the 
minster (St. Mary's) of, 220 — 

Bible as source of all knowledge, 

Bibliolatry, origin of, 263 

Bibltoteca Laurenziana in Flor- 
ence, 74; Ricciardiana, 73 

Bishop-fish, 198, 199 

Bivalve, symbolism of the, 47 



Black Friars, satirized, 220 

' Blasme des Fames' quoted, 332 

Boccaccio, on heliotrope, 35 ; list 

of relics, 289 
Bochart, Samuel, cited, on uni- 
corn's horn, 107 
BSdhitree, sacred to Buddhists, 

Bodleian Library, ivory carving in, 

Bonavenlura, symbolist, 185 
Bonn, recording angel and devil 

in the minster of, 330 
Book of Armagh, illuminations in, 

Bordeattx, Council of, 184 
Bosigk, F. L., on the derision of 

Jews, 299 note 
Boston, Lincolnshire, carvings in 

St. Botolph's, 96, 232, 234 
Bourassie, Abbe, cited, 256 
Boarges, lion in cathedral of, 83 ; 

gospel-mill, 160 ; beasts of the 

evangelists, 161; weighing souls, 

328, 329 
Brandenburg Cathedral, reliefs of 

animals, 237 
Bregenz, Alemannic gods at, 307 
Brenz, centaurs shooting arrows, 

Brest, devil noting female gossip 

during mass in, 332 
Bristol Cathedral, carvings from 

beast-epos and other poems, 

213 — 216 
British Museum, 71 ; metal plate 

in the, 118 
Bron, painting of Christ triumph- 
ant in the church of, 161 
Bruges, execution of fox in St. 

Michael and St. Ursin at, 212, 

Brunetto Latino, cited, 74 ; on the 

whale, 123 ; on the wolf, 151 
Brunhild, 321 
Brussels, Royal Library of, 50 ; 

eagle and eaglets, 118 

Buddhism, animal symbolism in, 

Buffoonery in churches, 279 
Bufonite, endowed with medicinal 

and magical properties, 34 
Biirger, G. A., his ballad quoted, 

Burgos Cathedral, grotesque and 

satirical carvings, 232 
Burkhart von Hohenfels, on the 

unicorn's horn, 108 
Burlesque of sacred rites, 279, 281 

Cadouin cloister, sculptures of 
Aristotle's and Vergil s love ad- 
ventures in the, 228, 229 

Caen, unicorn in St. Redegonde's, 
104; 'Lay of Aristotle' in St. 
Pierre's, 228 

Casar, Julius, on elks, 112 

Cahier, ' Melanges d'Archeologie ' 
cited, 20, 6s, 72, 151 

Calanson, Gmrani de. See Cuir- 
ant de Calanson 

Calcar, sculptures at, 240, 244, 

Calvin, satirized in St. Semin, 

Candace, Queen, no, 137 
Canterbury Cathedral, gospel-mill, 

160 ; fox as friar, 212 
CantimprS, Thomas de, cited, 74 
Caper bush, symbol of Judaism, 167 
Capua, baptistery, eagle fishing, 

Carbuncle, virtues of, 36 
Caricatures of sacred rites, 186, 

279; of Jews, 289 — 299 
Carnival, survival of Saturnalia, 

Carthusians satirized, 189 
Carvings, fanciful and grotesque, 

216 — 224 
Cassian, on the source of spiritual 

discernment, 16, 17 
Cassiodorus, cited, 66 
Cat: "wild-cats" in churches, 183; 



execution of the, 207, 234 ; at 

worship, 211; in the priest's 

house, 214 
Catacomis oi CalWstas, Ulysses and 

sirens, 315 
Catharine-wheel windows, revolt 

of the angels on, 258 
Cato, on Roman effeminacy, 24 
Cavalcanti, Guido, erotic imagery 

derived from the fable of the 

unicorn, 108 
Cecco d^Ascoli, his ' Acerba ' cited, 

Cecilitis, Felix, on the cult of the 

ass, 270 
Centaur, symbol of unruly passions, 

317 — 321 ; St. Anthony and the, 

Cerberus, in Santa Maria Novella 

at Florence, 310 
Chalcedony, virtues of, 36, 38 
Chalons, Council of, 263 ; navel of 

Jesus in Notre-Dame-en-Vaux, 

Champagne, poet of, on Reynard's 

execution, 213 
Champfleury, definition of "ecor- 

cher le renard," 208 
Charadrius, sculpture at Alne, 50, 

146 ; at Lyons, 146 ; symbolism 

of, 145 — 147 ; psalter of Isabella 

of France, 146 
Charlemagne, the type of valour, 

43 ; his capitulary against actors, 

Charles VIII., eagle's claw as 

symbol of, 201 
Charon, as ferryman, 310 
Chartres, relief of hare and warrior 

in the cathedral of, 9 
Chester, sculpture destroyed in the 

cathedral of, 224 
Childeric III. , golden bees in the 

tomb of, 4 
Chitragupta, secretary of Yama,33i 
Chiusi, column-sustaining lions at, 


Christ, monogram of, 12 
Christianity, aggressiveness of, 11 
Christmas, solar feast, 69, 264 
Chrysolite, virtues of, 37, 38, 39 
Chrysoprase, virtues of, 37 ; worn 

in December, 37 
CirywrfffOT, cited, 3, 185 ; 'Dicta' 

of, 65, 70 
" Chul," signifying phoenix, sand, 

and palm, 66 
Church edifice, symbol of human 

soul, 76 ; mystic meaning of its 

structure, 254 — 256 
Cicero, urged to provide panthers 

for political purposes, 23 
Cimaiue, the doctrine of the 

Trinity in his painting of the 

Crucifixion, 252 
Circe, purifies the A^onauts with 

swine's blood, 299 
Cistercians, as foxes, 223 ; satirized, 

Civaux, sirens in the church at, 

Classical myths, a source of Chris- 
tian symbolism, 300 — 303, 305 — 

Claves, keys to Holy Writ, 18; 

Melito's ' Clavis,' 53, 259 
Clemens Alexandrinus, cited, 16, 

Clement VII., Pope, his pyx 

adorned with a phoenix, 130 
Cllment, Filix, music of the ass's 

chant, 275 ; interpretation of the 

ass's litany, 278 
Cleves, sculptures in, 240, 243, 244 
Cloisters, wealth of English, 231 
Cluny, Musee (H6tel) de, Virtues 

personified, 153, 162 ; musical 

pigs, 232 
Coblence, relic in cloister of St. 

Barbara, 288 
Cochleeus, on the ' ' MUnchkalb," 204 
Cock, symbolism of the, 161 — 163 ; 

basilisk hatched from the egg of 

a, 163; witches' ointment made 



from the egg of a, 170; pecking 

at the fox, 206 
Cockatrice, origin and symbolism 

of the, 163 — 170 
Cochton, rebus, 222 
Ccelius, letter to Cicero for pan- 
thers, 23 
Cologne, griffin'sclaw, 106 ; phcenix, 

Colonne. See Guido delle Colonne 
Como, sculpture of papal ass, 201 
Constantine, sun-worshipper, 69, 

Copts, their hieroglyphic signs and 

symbols, 12 
Cornelimilnster, relics in the, io5 
Corbal, woman and devil, 333 
Councils, decrees against actors, 

263 ; against " Feast of Fools," 


Cranack, Lucas, painting ascribed 
to, 102 note; his drawing of the 
papal ass, 19S ; "ein grober 
Maler," 203 

Crane, symbolism of the, 209, 223, 

Credulity in the early Church com- 
pared with that of to-day, 175 — 

Crocodile, symbolism of the, 131 — 


Cross, the, in Coptic monuments, 
12 ; symbolized by the letter 
Tau, 67, 248, 250; triumphal 
chariot of, 161 ; its presence in 
Nature and prefiguration in the 
Hebrew Scriptures, 247—252; 
symbolisms of, its delineation as 
crucifix in art, 252; relics of, 287 

Crow, type of Christian virtues, 55, 

'47 . . , 

Cunault-sur-Loire, sirens in the 

church at, 316, 317 
Cynemulf, Anglo-Saxon paraphrase 

of ' De Phoenice,' 69 
Cyprian, he-goat typical of Christ, 


Dahlerup, Verrur, his edition of 
Icelandic 'Physiologus,' 71 

Damiani, Petrus, on the monastic 
state as exemplified by animals, 

Danae, legend of, 302 

'Dance of Death,' 336 — 342 

Dante, on the heliotrope, 35 ; on 
the pearl, 48 ; on the unicorn, 
108 ; on the eagle, 119 ; on the 
phoenix and pelican, 131 ; beasts 
in the path of, 138 ; comment- 
ators on, 254 ; on the statue of 
Mars, 306 ; Giotto as illustrator 
of, 310 ; on centaurs as symbols 
of violence, 319 

Dantzig, Hans Memling's 'Last 
Judgment ' in Dorothy Chapel of 
St. Mary's Church, 311 

David, on the hart, 171 ; his cross- 
shaped staff, 249 ; his combat 
with Goliath in San Michele of 
Pavia, 309 ; slaying a lion, relief 
at Sienna, 320 

Death, Greek conception of, 341 ; 
as a skeleton in art, 341. See 
Dance of 

'Decameron,' specimens of sacred 
relics, 289 

Deities, Christianization of pagan, 6 

Demeter, myth of, 303 

'De TrisUbus Gallice,' 204 

Devil, as a lion, 88, 92, 129 ; as a 
unicorn, 109 ; as a whale, 122, 
123; as an otter, 133; as:: a 
dragon, 134, 172 ; as a partridge, 
143, 144 ; as a basilisk, 164 ; as 
a fox, 206, 209, 210 ; hoof of 
the German, 244 ; in the myth 
of Argus, 314; as a centaur, 
317; as Fafnir, 327; cheating 
in weighing souls, 328, 329 ; 
recording female gossip during 
mass, 330; woman his agent 
and ally, 331 ; not a prominent 
figure in Christian architecture 
except in the tenth and eleventh. 



centuries, 333 ; liberties taken 

by Luther with the, 334 ; in the 

cathedral of Autun, 335 
' Dialogue of Creatures ,' 60 
Diamond, virtues of the, 37, 45 ; 

a protectidn gainst demons, 46 
Diemet, his ' Deutsche Gedichte,' 


Dioscorides, cited, 43 

Dog, symbolism and diabolism of 
the, 89 ; in the Bible, in Homer, 
and in the Mahlbhiirata, 8g — 91 

Dollinger, on Jesuits as educators, 

Dolphin, sculptured on tombs, 121 

Domingo de Guzman, rosary intro- 
duced by, 243 

Domimcans, derided, 243 

Dove, emblematic significance of, 
76, 77, 261 

Draconiius, ^milius, allusion to 
the hart in his poem, 173 

Dragon, as demon, S ; Solomon's, 
41 ; at Alne, 51 5 ^°^ of ^^ 
elephant, 1 1 1 ; symbol of Satan, 
132, 133 ; flees the panther, 

Dresden, griffin s claws in Museum 

at, 106 
Dreux, Philippe de, his ' Livre des 

Cr&tures,' 71 
Dublin, illuminations of Celtic MS. 

in Trinity College, 118 
Du Meril, cited, on Jews as owls, 

Durand, on animal tjrpes, 85 ; on 
symbolism of church edifices, 
254. 259 

Eagle, of Jupiter and John, 6 ; on 
doorway at Alne, 51, 1 18; 
renews its youth, 66, 116 — 119; 
gazing at the sun, 84, 118 — 121 ; 
breaking its beak, 1 19 ; in 
" Tetramorph," I54 ; in papal 
ass, 201 

East, signification of, 257, 278 

Easter, solar feast, 69 

Ebers, Georg, on Coptic symbolism, 

Ebert, Adolf, cited, 68 note 
" Ecorcher lerenard," 208 ; in St. 

Fiacre's, 209 
Egg-threshing, in church at Kem- 

pen, 239 — 241 
Elder Lady Chapel, sculptures in, 

Elephant, symbolism of, 32, 33, 110 

— 113; embroidered on chasubles 

to typify priestly chastity, 113; 

carvii^ ofi 222 
Elephantiasis, 20 r 
Elisha, on dogs, 90 
Elks, Caesar's description of, 112 
Eltenberg, Annunciation in parish 

church of, 99 
Ely Cathedral, fox as preacher, 

186, 223 
Emden, sculptures published by 

Marten at, 235 
Emerald, virtues of, 37 — 39 
Emmerich, carvings of animals at, 

240, 244, 24s 
Emser, his interpretation of the 

" monk-calf," 204 
Ephesus, Council of, 65 
Epiphanius, on gems, 40 ; cited, 

56, 59, 185 ; on the cult of the 

ass, 271 
Epiphany, origin of, 69 ; celebra- 
tion of, 264, 267 
Eros, likened to a bee, i 
Eschatology, Egyptian, 329 
Espagnol. See Pierre Espagnol 
Essinus, symbolism of the, 124 — 

Eucherius, Bishop of Lyons, on the 

spiritual significance of the points 

of the compass, 259 
Euergetes II, , sumamed Physkon, 

25 ; his book of marvels and 

zeal as a collector, 26 
' Eumenides ' of ^schylus, cited, 

298, 299 



Eustathius, his exegesis of creation, 
^55 . 

Eutokios, sjmibolism of the, 13, 48 
Evreux, fox as friar in St. Taurin's, 

Exegesis. See Hermeneutics 

i^o^/sj, hagiological and other, 185, 

Fafnir, in Freising, 323 ; in Hylle- 
stad, 327 

Fall of man, its effect on the 
natural world, 29 

Fathers^ credulity of, 175 — 177 

Feasts, origin of Christian, 69 ; 
scandalous celebration of, 265 — 
267 ^ 

Ferrara, lion in, 92 

Fischart, his explanation of the 
Strasburg sculptures, 188 

Fish, symbolism of, 55, 121— 126 ; 
significance of baked, 122 

Flogel, cited, 192 

Florence, Baptistery, 92, 306 ; St. 
Maria Novella, 310 ; Uffizi, 130 

Foolscap, origin of the name, 195 

Fools, feast of, 265, 266 

' Four P.P.,' cited, 281—284 

Fox, on doorway in Alne, S I ; burial 
of, 188, 189, 235 ; on cushion 
at Pforzheim, 192 ; wiles of, 205 
— 216 ; ensnaring fowls, 208 ; 
"pricking" the, 209; type of 
devil, 210 ; Herod as, 206, 211 ; 
preaching, 208, 210, 211, 212, 
215, 221 ; execution of, 213, 215, 
221 ; delineation of its exploits 
in European churches, 211 — 

Fra Cipolla, his collection of relics, 

Frankfort, satire on Jews, 295 

Frauenlob, on hunting the unicorn, 
107; on the panther's breath, 

^36 ... 

Frederic III., Duke, his collection 

of relics, 289 

Freiburg Minster, lion and pelican, 

83; Samson, 91, 191, 192; 

wolfs novitiate, 189 — 191, 235; 

revolt of angels, 258 ; centaurs, 

319 ; weighing souls, 330 
Freidank, quoted on the peacock, 

Freising, distich on the Jews, 298 ; 

Siegfried saga, 321 — 325 
Freyr, sun-god, 298 
Fria, German Venus, 122 
Friar and Tinker, 244 
Fribourg, weighing souls, on the 

cathedral doors in, 330 
Friday, use offish on, 121 
Friedrick, Prof., on the Gelasian 

decree, 65 
Friedrick II., his "ostrich eyes," 

94 ; permits Jews to take usury, 

Frog, symbolism of the, 200 note, 

Fulica, type of doctrinal purity, 


Gabriel, archangel, hunter of the 

unicorn, 96, 98, 100 
Gaeta, Bacchus on a baptismal 

ewer at, 308 
Galatea, triumph of, 303 
Galen, cited, 43 
Gautier de Coinsi, his protest 

against "wild-cats and lions," 

183, 217 
Gayet, on Coptic monuments, 12 
Geese, carvings of, 193, 215, 221 
Geiler von Kaisersberg, Johannes, 

sermons censuring beguines, 187 
Gelasius I., Pope, his apocryphal 

decree condemning the 'Physi- 

ologus,' 64, 152 
Gems, as amulets, 34, 35 ; virtues 

of, 36, relation to months of 

the year, 37 ; religious symbolism 

of, 38—40 
Gentiles, symbolized by locusts, 166 




Gessner, his account of the bishop - 
fish, 199 

Ghiberti, his sibyls on Baptistery in 
Florence, 309 

Giotto, sibyls on his tower, 309; 
illustrates Dante's ideas, 310; 
his centaur in Assisi, 320 

Giovanni dalV Orto, imagery de- 
rived from the phoenix and 
pelican, 131 

Girgenti, myth of Hippolytus on 
font in, 307 

Gjukungasaga, in the church at 
Austad, 324 

Gladstone, his theory of m3rthology, 

Gloucester Cathedral, satirical carv- 
ings in, 224 

Gmiind, centaurs on St. John's 
church in, 318 

Gnostics, their speculations con- 
cerning the Word, 98, 99 ; Lord 
of Sabaoth with ass's head, 271 

' Golden Legend,' parable of human 
life from the, 5 

Goliath. See David 

Cos, elephant on chasuble at, 113 

Gospel-mill,sX Gottiagtn, 157, 158; 
at V^zelai, 159 ; at Bourges, 
Canterbury, and elsewhere, 160, 

Gottfried von Strasburg, on the 
Virgin as a turtle-dove, 147 

GiiUingen, picture of the fabrication 
of theology in, 157 

Gottweih Cloister, 66 

' Graf Rudolf; cited, 125 

Gran, griffin's claw in the church 
of, 106 

Grandidier, his description of monk 
and b^guine in Strasburg, 187 

Grane, in Siegfried saga, 323 

Grasshopper, symbolism of, 166 

Gray Friars, satirized, 220 

Great Malvern Abbey, rats hanging 
cat, 234 

Gregory I. (the Great), his love of 

symbolism, 66 ; use of the 
' Physiologus,' 152 ; on Job, 166 ; 
on the basilisk, 167, 168 ; on 
Ezekiel, 256 ; his letter of in- 
struction to Anglo-Saxon mis- 
sionaries, 306 

Gregory of Nazianz, Greek ' Physi- 
ologus,' ascribed to, 64 

Gregory of Nyssa, his animal t3rp- 
ology, 18 ; on the dolphin, 121 

Griffins, as demons, 39; so-called 
claws of, 106 ; symbols of carnal 
passions, 192 

Grimm, Jacob, on superstitious 
dread of animals, 8 

Grimmenthal, unicorn in, lOl, 102 ; 
Luther's denunciation of, 104 

Grosnet. See Pierre de Grosnef 

Guido delle Colonne, ladies likened 
to panthers, 136 

Guillaume. See William of Nor- 

Guirant de Calanson, on the open 
eyes of the lion, 94 

Gullinbursti, golden boar, 298 

Gunnar in Siegfried saga, 323 — 

325. 327 , ^. 

Guy de Munois, ape in cowl as ms 

abbot's seal, 281 
Gyrfalcon, in Coptic relief of Isis 

and Horus, 13 

H, signification of, 67 

Hadrian, phoenix on his coin, 1 29 ; 

had swine sculptured over gates 

of Jerusalem, 294 
Halberstadt, centaurs in Liebfrauen- 

kirche, 319 
Halle, relics of Noah's ark and 

Virgin's chemise, 288 
Hallingdal, Siegfried saga, 324 
Hamlet, cited, 233, 340 
Hard-shell Baptist, sermon of, 45 
Hare, superstitious fear of the, 9 ; 

in the Strasburg Minster, 188 ; 

in the ' Lay of Aristotle,' 228 f 

symbol of the Trinity, 239 



Harry son, John. See Bale, John 
Hart, symbolism of, 55 note; in 

Pisa Cathedral, 85, 171— 173; 

carving in Ely Cathedral, 223 
' Heavenly Jerusalem,' poem cited, 

38. See Jerusalem 
^i^ifzf, cosmogony allegorized, 17; 

mythology meagre, 260 
Heerbrand, Jacob, polemical treatise 

of, 193 
He-goat, type of Christ, 46 ; as 

bier-bearer, 189 
Heider, his edition of bestiary, 66 
Heidingsfeld, swine in synagogue 

at, 294 
Heilbrunn, carvings satirizing Jews, 

Heiligenstadt, Jews sucking swine, 

Heliotrope, virtues of the, 35 ; 

associated with March, 37 
Hemsedal, Siegfried saga, 324 
Henri d'Andely, his ' Lai d'Aris- 

tote ' cited, 226, 228 
Henry I. of England, 71 
Henry VIII. of England, satire on 

the Roman See, 195 
Hercules, taken for Samson, 6 ; 

Christian interpretation of his 

labours, 302 ; at Trier, 307 ; 

slaying a centaur, 320 
Hermeneutics, importance attached 

to, 27 ; essential to keep Holy 

Writ abreast with the progress of 

thought, 29; perverse ingenuity 

of patristic, 40—42, 45, 54. iSt 

91, 119, 14s, 159, 111— in, 

Hermes, the prototype of Christ, 

Hermes Trismegistus, authority of, 

169, 170 
Herod, as fox, 206, 211 
Herodotus, 197 

Heron, type of Christian purity, 148 
Herrade deLandsberg, her ' Hortus 

Deliciarum,' 74 

Herse. S&tjohn of Herse 
' Herzog Ernst,' •poem, 125 
Hespendes, Garden of Eden in 

Christian art, 309 
' Hexahemera,' cited, 54, 55 
Heywood, John, his 'Four P.P.,"^ 

Hieronymus, his symbolism of 

Solomon, 42 
Hilarius, exegesis of locusts, 167 
Hildebert of Lavardin, works of, 61 
Hildefonse, his symbolism of beasts, 

Hildesheim, lion's head, 92 ; griffin's 

claw, 106 
Hiffolytus, sculptured on a Chris- 
tian font, 307 
Hitterdal, Siegfried saga, 325 
Hog, type of Buddhist ascetic, 31, 

32 ; as satire on Calvin, 194 ; in 

sacred architecture, 186, 1S9, 

194. 195. 218 
Hogne, saga of Atle and, 324 
Holbein, his ' Imago Mortis,' 338 
" Holy Coat," worshipped at Trier, 

Holy Rood, legends of, 252 
Hommel, his edition of Ethiopic 

' Physiologus,' 63, 71 
Honey, antiseptic and cultic uses 

of, 3 ; in Mithras worship, 4 ; 

symbol of worldly seductions, 5 
Honori de Sainte- Marie, sermon 

cited, 340, 341 
Hoopoe, type of filial affection, 148 
Horapollo, meaning of, 14 ; cited, 

128, 129 
' Hortus Deliciarum,' cited, 74 ; 

destroyed, 75 ; miniature of 

monster in, 155, 156 
Horus, type of infant Jesus, 13 ; 

personification of light and life, 

14 ; anniversary of, 15 ; reliefs 

in the Louvre and British 

Museum, 13; in Aix-la-Chapelle, 

Hrabanus, Manrus, his four senses 



of Scripture, 17; on the cross 
in nature, 247 

Oradshin, abnormal skeleton of a 
saint there, 284 

Hugo de Saint-Victor, treatise on 
beasts falsely ascribed to, 75 

Hugo von Langensiein, on the uni- 
corn, 108 ; his allegory of the 
panther, 135 

Humour, coarseness of mediaeval 
and Reformatory, 19 

Hyacinth, associated with January, 

Hyena, in Alne, 50, 142 ; nature 
and symbolism of, 140 ; super- 
stitions concerning, 141 ; in 
architecture, 141, 142 

Hyllestad, Siegfried saga, 322 

Hymn sung to the ass, 272 — 275 ; 
its spiritual sense, 278 

Hyrtl^ Joseph, saints' skeletons rec- 
tified by, 285 

/, signification of, 67 

Ibbenstadt, centaurs in the cloister- 
church of, 319 

Ibex, symbol of aspiration, 153 

Ichneumon, Egyptian ideograph, 
132 ; killer of monsters, 132, 

Iconoclasm in Netherland churches, 

Jlle, his 'Dance of Death, 342 
Jnderawood. See Beverly 
Indian stone, type of Christ, 48 
InghUfredi, canzoni cited, 131 
Innocent III., confirms mendicant 
orders, 210; censures rules of 
St. Francis, 224 
lo, myth of Argus and, 313 
Isabella of France, her psalter, 20, 
146, 153 ; illustrations from it, 
124, 133. 148; 162, 174. 3". 
Isidore, cited, 3, 43, 48 ; his 
' Etymologies,' 59, 109 ; his sym- 
bolism of animals, 185 

Isis, type of the Virgin, 13 ; in 
Aix-la-Chapelle, 303 ; her statue 
worshipped by Christians, 307 

Isle of man, Sigurd saga in the, 

Isocrates, sirens on his sepulchre, 

Istar, origin of the Virgin of the 
Seven Swords, 6 

Jacinth, 39 

Jacopo da Lentino, erotic poet, 

cited, 165 
Jacopo delta Quercia, his reliefs at 

Sienna, 320 
Jacopone da Todi, his symbolism of 

the serpent, 115 
Jarlsberg, Siegfried s£^a, 324 
Jasper, virtues of, 37, 38 
Jeremiah, on the hyena, 139 
_/«ra?««, "chul" as palm-tree, 66 ; on 

the two women at the mill, 159 ; 

his symbolisms, 185, 247 ; on 

the brazen serpent, 250 ; on St. 

Anthony and the centaur, 317 
Jerusalem, stories of the Heavenly, 

38 ; swine over the gates of, 294 
Jesuit, definition of theology, 269 
Jesus, His remark concerning a dead 

dog, 90 
Jewels, as talismans, 34 ; blessing, 

43 ; formed fi-om hyena's eyes, 

Jews, coarse caricatures of, 289 — 

299 ; self-sacrifice of two, 299, 


Job, contempt of dogs, 90 
John of Herse, his observation of 

the unicorn, 105 
John the Baptist, his six heads, 286 
John the Evangelist, preaching, 210 
John II. (the Good), his decree 

concerning the Jews, 293 
Joseph, relic of his breath, 288 
J<rve, name applied to God and to 

Christ, 309, 310 
Jag, symbolism of the, 33 



funo, her symbol the peacock, 310 
fupiter, prototype of Jesus in art, 

Justin Martyr, his ' Hexahemeron,' 

55 ; on the cross in nature, 247 ; 

on the pascha as foreshadowing 

the Crucifixion, 251 
Juvenal, on the beaver, 139; on 

frogs' entrails as charms, 238 

Katilbach, his illustrations of the 

beast-epos, 214, 215 
Kelheim, inscription recording the 

banishment of Jews from Ratis- 

bon, 297 
Kempen, sculptures in parish church, 

239 — 244 ; excellent works of the 

Flemish school, 244 
Kephisodotos, statues by, 306 
Kemer, Justinus, on occult virtues 

in stones, 44 
Kirk Andreas, Sigurd saga, 325 
KlingenthtU, 'Dance of Death,' 

336, 337 
Klosierneuberg, lion, 84 ; Samson, 

Konrad von Wiirzburg, on hunting 

the unicorn, 107 ; on the panther, 

136 ; on the beaver, 139 ; on the 

siren, 316 
JCdrner, Theodor, poem on precious 

stones, 38 
Krishna, his symbol a blue bee, 4 
Ktesias, his fabulous stories, 22, 


Lactantitis, 'De Phoenice' ascribed 

to, 68 
' Lai d'Aristote,' 226 — 228 
Lamprecht, Pfaffen, his 'Alexan- 
derlied,' description of the uni- 
corn, 110; cited, 125 ; Queen 
Candace's automatic panther, 137 
Lamprey, symbolism of the, 55 
Land, Syriac ' Physiologus,' 64 
Lange, Konrad, Papstesel, 196 note, 

Langenstein. See Hugo von Lan- 

Langland, William, his satire on 
the mendicant orders in ' Piers 
Plowman,' 230 — 232 

Lapis lazuli, virtue of, 37 

Lardal, Siegfried saga, 324 

Lateran, Museum of the, 53; mosaic 
of phoenix in the tribune of the, 

Lauchert, Friedrich, his history of 
the ' Physiologus ' cited, 63, 79, 
108, 116, 136 

Lauremherg, ' Schertzgedichte,' 
cited, 187 

Lausanne, monsters in the cathe- 
dral of, 200 

Lauiensack, Paul, his altar-piece at 
Grimmenthal, representing the 
chase of the unicorn, 103 ; picture 
burned, 104 

Leech in Buddhistic symbolism, 32 

Leicester, fox preaching in St. 
Martin's, 223 

Le Mans. See Mans 

Leniino. S&ejacopo da Lentino 

Le-Puy-en- Velay, personification of 
the sciences, 154 ; weighing 
souls, 328 

Lessing, ' Die Biene ' cited, 2 

Leviathan, as a rhinoceros, 85 ; 

•> size of, 123 

Liebfrauenkirche, in Halberstadt, 
centaurs, 319 

Lily, symbol of purity, 76 

Limoges, foxes as mendicant friars 
in the cathedral of, 225 

Lincoln, Abraham,, jokes of, 43 

Linccln Cathedral, fox preaching, 

Lion, winged, 10 ; three character- 
istics of the, 81 ; symbolism of, 
82 — 94; represented in archi- 
tecture, 82—87, 91, 92, 130; 
on hdmets, 85 ; type of opposite 
qualities, 87 ; in poetry, 93, 94 ; 
as devil, 87, 88, 129 



' Lithiaka,' on precious stones in 

the, 45 
' Livre d'Heures, ' miniature of snail 

and its meaning, 217, 218 
Lizard, symbolism of, 94, 95 ; 

fighting with scorpion, 154 
Locusts signify Gentiles, 166—168 
Lorenfo d'Avalos, likened to a 

lion's whelp, 93 
Lorenzo de Segura, Juan, his 

'Poema de Alexandro,' 113; 

method of capturing elephants, 

113; serpents fear of nude 

persons, 116 
Loreto, sibyls on the Casa Santa 

of, 309 
Lot, symbolism of, 67 
Lothair, cross of, 308 
Louise of Savoy, 162 
Louques, devil cheating in weighing 

souls in the church at, 328 
Louvre, Mantegna's satyrs and 

centaurs in the, 320 
Louvret, Pierre, his account of the 

ass's feast, 277 
Lucca, lions supporting pulpit, 91 
Lucerne, Meglinger's triumphs of 

death in, 339 
Lucretius, witty, but not scientific, 


Liidwig, Duke of Bavaria, com- 
pared to various animals, 136 

Liihrig, his ' Dance of Death,' 342 

Lund, animals in the cathedral of, 

Lupa (Lufanar), 150 note 

Lupercalia, the Christian feast of 
the Purification, 264 

Luther, Martin, his coarse wit, 19 ; 
on the hart and serpent, 55 note; 
on the aqueous origin of swallows, 
149 ; satirized, 194 ; on " Papst- 
esel" and "MUnchkalb," 202 
— 204 ; his interpretation of the 
satire on the Jews in Witten- 
berg, 290 ; harmlessness of his 
devU, 334 

Liitzelburgei; Hans, his cuts of 
Holbein's ' Imago Mortis,' 338 

Lycosthenes, his work on prodigies 
cited, 197, 198, 224 

Lydda, ostensible birthplace of St. 
George, 15 

Lyons Cathedral, lion and whelp, 
84 ; unicorn, 96 ; MS. in City 
Library of, 204 ; Saint- Jean 
(cathedral), 'Laid'Aristote,'228; 
revolt of the angels, 258 

Macabre, origin of the word, 336, 

337. Sss ' Datue of Death' 
Macedonians, heretical sect, 238 
Madrid, National Library of, 

'Libro de los Gatos,' 72 
Maerlant, Jacob van, 74 
Magdeburg, phoenix, 129 ; satire on 

Jews, 297 
Magi, their wisdom explained by 

Luther, 55 note ; ass laden with 

their gifts, 278 
Maison des Templiers, fox preaching 

to a congregation of animals, 211 
Malepartus, snail storming, 217 
Malipiero, account of papsd ass, 195 
Malvern Abbey, rats hanging cat, 

Manchester, grotesque carvings in 

tlie Collegiate Church of, 233 
Mandrakes as aphrodisiacs, 1 10 
Mans {Le), lion and phoenix, 83 ; 

fox as friar, 225 
Mantegna, Andrea, centaurs and 

satyrs, 320 
Manu, 'Institutes 'of, thievingpart- 

ridges, 144 
Marbodius, on precious stones, 38, 


Marie de France, her ' Wolfs Novi- 
tiate ' cited, 190, 191 

Marienhafen, sculptures of animals, 

23s, 236 . . o 

Mark, his type a roaring lion, 85 
Marolles, on the six heads of John 

the Baptist, 286 



Mars, statue of, 306 
Marten, his drawings, 235 
Martial, on the skill of the Romans 

in taming and training animals, 24 
Maulbronn Cloister, lion howling 

over whelps, 83 
Maupertuis, moraJization on skulls, 


Max, Gabriel, the rose of martyr- 
dom in the painting by, 76 ; his 
painting, 'The Last Greeting,' 

Maximus, his interpretation of 
sirens, 315 

Mayence, lions in the cathedral of, 
87, 92 ; Council of, 263 

Meerbischof. See Bishop-fish 

Megasthenes, his fabulous stories, 22 

Megenberg, Konrad von, his ' Buch 
der Natur,' 74 

Meglinger, his ' Dance of Death, ' 

Meissner, cited, 206, 208, 211 note, 

Melanchthon, his coarse sarcasm, 

19 ; on the papal ass and the 

" monk-calf, 202, 204 
Melito, his ' Clavis ' cited, 53, 259 
Mena, fitan de, simile of the lion's 

whelp, 93 
Menander as a Christian saint, 306 
Mercury in Christian art, 307, 309, 


Merl, symbolism of the, 148 
Messiah, etymology of, 252 
Metempsychosis, influence on animal 

symbolism and heraldry, 7 ; in 

Oriental eschatology, 328 
Meti, animals in the Templars' 

church at, 211 
Michael. See St. Michael 
il/ii&«, first Council of, 184; Aaron's 

rod in, 287 ; statue of Hercules 

at, 307 
Milton, on the eagle, 121 
Minerva, relief di, 307 
Minorite Cloister at Cleves, 244 

Minotaur, 10; in Christian art, 

309. 310 
Mithras, cult of, 4 ; altar in St. 

Clemente, 306 
Mneuis, bull of Osiris symbolized 

by the sun, 14 
Modena, lions as devils, 92 
Monoculi, types of single-minded- 

ness, 39 
Monstrosities, as embodiments of 

metempsychosis, 7 > as portents, 

196 — 204 ; satirical, 224, 245 ; 

saintly, 285—287 
Montalembert, on the sculpture 

satirizing Calvin, 194 
Monza, lions as types of spiritual 

vigilance, 87 
Morris, Richard, his edition of the 

'Physiologus,' 62 
" Miinchkalb," description of, 203 ; 

interpretations o^ 204 
Munich, lion relief, 82, 83 ; Royal 

Library, 20, 153, 197 
Munois. See Guy de Munois 
Muotta, hares as a symbol of the 

Trinity, 239 
Museo Pio- Clementina, relief of 

satyr, 301 
Music personified, 154 
Mythology as source of Christian 

symbolism, 300 

Napoleon, golden bees of, 4 
Nass, F. /., on the Strasburg 

sculptures, 188 
Neable, /. M., on symbolisms in 

churches, 256 
Nechebt-Ilithyia, birth-easing gyr- 

falcon, 13 
Neckam, Alexander, on natural 

things, 60 
Nesland, Sigurd s^a, 324 
Nestorius, condemned as heretic, 65 
Netherlands, iconoclasm in the, 245 
Nibelungen Hort, 323 
Nice, Council of, on sacred images, 




Nuodemus, his glove as a relic, 288' 
Nilus, St., his letter to Olympi- 

odorus, i8z 
Noailles, Bishop, relic of Jesus' 

navel removed by, 288 

North, assigned to Satan, 258, 259 

Norway, Sigurd saga in, 322 

Notre-Dame of Paris, sleeping lion, 

86; weighing souls, 330; of 

Rouen, foxes as friars, 225 ; 

Henri d'Andely, canon, 226; 

-en-Vaux in Chalons, relic of 

Jesus' navel, 288 ; de Recouv- 

rance in Brest, female gossip 

during mass noted by the devil, 

Novgorod, lion s jaws symbolizing 

hell, 92 ; centaurs in St. Sophia 

of, 318 
Numbers, significance of, 40, 41 ; 

symbolism of, 67 
Numedal, Sigurd saga, 324 
Nuremberg, symbolical animals, 82, 

130; tetramorph, 155 ; image of 

ass, 271 ; Jews in, 293 
NycHcorax, symbol of the recluse, 

66; of Jews, 77 

Odium theologicum, parody of, 1 54 

Odo, Abbot of Cluny, 167 ; of 
Sherington, his censures of the 
Cistercians, 224 ; his fables, 225 

Odon, Archbishop, on the dissolute 
sports of nuns, 266 

Ogive, not permissible to heretics, 

Olympiodorus, scruples about ani- 
mals in churches, 182 

Onk, its significance and survival 
in the cross, 12 

Onyx, associated with August, 37 

Opal, associated with October, 37 

Opdal, Sigurd saga, 324 

Oppenheim, auricular conception of 
Christ, 99 

Oppianus, his poem on fishing 
cited, 125 

Orcagno, Andrea and Bernardo, 
their frescoes, 310, 320 

Orendel, poem on Holy Coat, 2S7 

Orientation, its significance in 
sacred architecture, 257 

Origen, his threefold sense of 
Scripture, 16 ; spiritualization of 
Hebrew cosmogony, 17 ; adam- 
antine exegesis and ascetic zeal, 
57. 58 ; symbolical exposition, 
58 ; on the lion and other crea- 
tures, 85, i8s ; on forms of the 
cross in nature, 247 

Orlandi, Guido, sonnet to, 108 

Orpheus, prototype of Christ, 302 

Orto, Giovanni. See Giovanni 
dalV Orto 

Osiris, bulls sacred to, 14 ; weigh- 
ing souls, 329 

Osteology, freaks of sacred, 285 

Ostrich, incubating eyes of, 94; 
mentioned, 314 

Otter, symbolism, 131 ; confused 
with water-snake, 132 

Ousel, symbolism of, 148 

Ovid, his ' Metamorphoses ' cited, 

Owl, in Buddhism, 32 ; symbol of 

Jews, 77 ; rebus of Tyll Eulen- 

spiegel, 243 ; sign of desolation, 

Ox, like a deer and unicorn, 112 ; 

hoof of, 19s ; coat-of-arms of 

Alexander VI., 201 
Oxford, carving in Bodleian 

Library, 161 

Paderbom, scenes irom fables in 

the cathedral of, 237; sculpture 

of three hares, 239 
Padua, sculpture of lion, 87 
Pallas as Eve, 6 

Palm Sunday, celebration of, 265 
Pan, relief in Aix-la-Chapdle 

Minster, 303 
Panther, on doorway at Alne, yi, 

13s ; sweet breath due to its diet, 



134 ; nature and symbolism of 
the, 133 — 138; Siegfried's quiver 
covered with skin of, 137 ; 
Queen Candace's automatic, 137 

Panthera, legend of, 137 

Papstesel, discovery and description 
of) 19s ; allegory of Rome, 200 ; 
sculptured on the cathedral of 
Como, 200, 201 ; engravings of, 
202 ; interpretations of, 204 

Papias, his exegesis, 55 

'Pardoner and Friar' assortment 
of relics in, 283 

Paris, terrobuli, 50 ; ' Evangeliari- 
nm,' 1 52; illuminated manuscript, 
161 ; Feast of Fools forbidden by 
the Council of, 266 ; effigy of ass, 
271 ; statue of Isis, 307 ; sleep- 
ing lion, 86 ; weighing souls in 
Notre-Dame of, 330 

Parma, relief of human life, $ ; 
lion, 87 

Partridge, symbolism of, 143 — 
145 ; pilfering propensity of, 145; 
in missals and sacred edifices, 


Paschal lamb, symbolical of the 
Crucifixion, 251 

Patiscus, a famous hunter, 24 

Paul, on the vice symbolized by 
the hyena, 139 ; on lions, 142 ; 
toiling at the gospel-mill, 160; 
his natural man symbolized by 
the centaur, 192; on the pascha, 
251 ; the Hermit, 317 

Pavia, Theseus slaying the Mino- 
taur, 309 

Peacock, symbolism 01 the, 310 — 

Pearl-fishing, formation and sym- 
bolism of, 47, 48 

Pegasus as Christian prototype, 
301, 309 

Pelican, type of the holy recluse, 
66 ; in Freiburg Minster, 83 ; 
in Strasburg Minster, 84; type 
of the Atonement, 128 ; in archi- 

tecture, 129 — 131 ; in sacred and 
secular poetry, 130, 131 ; on 
shield of Love, 153 

Pentecost, celebration of, 265 

Pepys "foxed," 209 

Peter of Capua calls the risen 
Christ " aethereal bee," 3 

Peter of Picardy, prose version of 
'Physiologus,' ^\ 

Petrarch, unicorn in engraving of 
his triumphs, 104, 105 ; calls 
God Jove, 309 

Petronius, on the Roman passion 
for the arena, 23 

Pforzheim, Provost's cushion with 
wolf as monk, 193 

Philaster, on frog-worship, 238 

Philippe Auguste, edict banishing 
actors, 263 

Philippe de Thaun, his ' Livre des 
Creatures,' 71 ; on the hyena, 

Philo, founder of the Alexandrian 
school, 16 

Philotheos, fresco of sleeping lion 
in the convent of, 86 

Phmnix, larva of, 15 ; Lactantius' 
poem on, 68 ; on coins, 69 ; 
Cynewuirs Anglo-Saxon para- 
phrase, 69 ; described and 
exegetically applied, 126 ; on 
cinerary urns, 127 ; in architec- 
ture, 83, 84, 129—131 ; in 
poetry, 130, 131 ; on the shield 
of Devotion, 153 

'Physiologus' (the), on the Indian 
stone, 13 ; importance of it as a 
key to the mystical meaning of 
natural things, 18 ; cited, 38, 
45 ; on the tutelar virtue of the 
diamond, 46 j far-fetched simili- 
tudes of, 47 ; viviparous accipi- 
ters, 49; author of, 54; plural 
form of, 56 ; Epiphanius' exposi- 
tion of, 59 ; works modelled 
after, 60 ; Theobald's version of, 
6l, 62 ; its popularity, 62, 63 ; 



translations of, 62 — 74; Ethio- 
pic, Armenian, and Syriac, 63, 
64 ; when composed, 65 ; first 
mention of Latin version in the 
Index Prohibitorum, 64, 152 ; 
MSS. and editions of the Latin, 
65; modern translations from the 
Latin, 70; two German versions, 
70; Icelandic, 70, 71, 124; 
French bestiaries based upon, 71 ; 
Greek metrical, Roumanian, and 
Spanish versions, 72 ; Provencal, 
73 ; quoted and amplified by 
mediaeval writers, 74 — 76 , clue 
to these treatises, 75, 153 ; 
Albertus Magnus' criticism of, 
78 ; key to allusions and similes 
in sermons and songs, 79; on 
the characteristics of the lion, 
81, 82; poetic imagery derived 
from, 93, 94, 107, 108, no, 
113, 116, 119— 121, 131, 134, 
136. 137. 1461 147; the uni- 
corn, 95, 109 ; elephant, 1 10 
— 112; serpent, 114 — 116; 
eagle, 116 — ng ; fish, 121; 
sea-creatures, 122 ; phoenix, 
126, 127; otter, 133; Walden- 
sian version of, 49, 73, 109, 133; 
beaver, 139 ; hyena, 139, 141 ; 
raven, 149 ; cock, 162 ; psycho- 
logical value of, 171 ; a prece- 
dent for other marvels, 185, 229, 
230 ; fox, 205, 208, 209 ; basi- 
lisk, 237 ; swan, 238 ; peacock, 
312 ; casual references to, 138, 
151, 232, 234 

Jhcardte, ape on bishop's seal in, 

Picards, 114 

Pictures, books of the ignorant, 75 

Pierre de Grosnet, poem on gossips 
in church reported by the devil, 

Pierre Espagnol, on ostrich eyes, 

' Piers Plowman' See Langland 

Pineda, on the samir, 42 

Pinon, Bishop of, ape in episcopal 
robes as seal, 281 

Pisa, sculptures of animals in the 
cathedral of, 85, 91 ; frescoes in 
the Campo Santo of, 310 

Piira, his 'Spicilegium Soles- 
mense,' 53, 63 

Pliny, character of his Natural 
History, 25 ; borrowed by Mar- 
bodius, 43 ; on the eagle-stone, 
49 ; ichneumon, 132 

Plutarch, on the ichneumon, 132; 
on ass-worship, 270 

Pluto, personification of hell, 310 

Pocci, his 'Dance of Death,' 342 

' Poemade Alexandro.' SeeZj>rema 
de Segura 

Poitiers Cathedral, hog and dog as 
harpists, 232 ; sirens, 317 

Points of the compass in sacred 
architecture, 256—259 

Polo, Messer, his lady-love likened 
to the panther, 136 

Ponce de Leon, his version of Solo- 
mon's Song, 147 

Pope, Cranach's drawing of the 
rise and origin of the, 203 ; elec- 
tion of the, 223 

Poseidon as Adam, 6 

Posidippus as a Christian saint, 306 

Prague, abnormal skeletons of 
saints, 284 — 286 

' Praise of Solotnon,' poem, legend 
of the dragon, 41 

Precious stones. See Gems and 

Pregulhan. See Aimeric de P. 

Proserpina, sirens messengers of, 


Proverbs, illustrated in church 
architecture, 222, 239, 245 

Prudentius, Aurelius Clemens, his 
all^orical poems, 66, 67 

Psalter. See Isabella of Frame 

Pyramus and Thisbe in BSle Cathe- 
dral, 304, 30s 



J^roboU^ See Terrobuli 

Qiiedlinburg, Bacchus in Schloss- 

kirche of, 308 
Querela. See /acopo della Querela 

Rabins, on sea-monsters, 123 ; their 
myths and fables, 261 ; their 
personification of alphabetic 
characters, 262 

Rabelais, his humour, 19 ; on 
" flaying the fox," 209 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 'The Lover' 
cited, 33 ; on hyenas, 140 

Ram, symbol of leadei^ip, 76 

Ratisbon, lion, 87 ; sculptures : 
satire on Jews, 297 ; sirens, 317 

Rats executing cat, 207 

Raven, symbolism of, 66, 76, 149, 


Ravenna, lions, 87 

Rebuses, 220, 222 

Redemption, its effect upon animals, 

Reformation, sceptical tendency of, 


Regino, Si^fried saga, 321—323 

Reinaert de Vos, Reincke Vos, 
and Reineke Fuchs, cited, 137, 
187, 214, 21S 

Reinmar von Zweter, on ostnch 
eyes," 94 ; on the unicorn, 108 ; 
on the phoenix, 131 

Relics, holy, 281—289; repaired 
by Prof. Hyrtl, 285 

^fOTa,j!;w, sculpture of Samson, 192 

Remora, symbol of the Saviour, 
122, 124; feats of the, 125 

Renaissance, effect of, 334 

Renart leNouvel, snail as standard- 
bearer, quoted, 217 

Rethel, Alfred, his 'Dance of 
Death,' 342 

Rheims, effigy of ass in the cathe- 
dral of, 271 

Rhinegold, 323 

Rhinoceros, symbol of recluseness, 
33 ; Biblical leviathan, 85 

Ribbesford, eagle taking a fish, 118 

Robigo (Robigus), origin of Roga- 
tion week, 264 

Rock-crystal, virtue of, 37 

Rodari, Jacob and Thomas, sculp- 
ture of papal ass, 200 

Rogation week, origin of, 264 

' Roman de Renart ' (' Romance of 
Reynard '), cited, 216, 225, 230, 

23s. 236, 312 
Romans, spectacular use of animals, 

Rome, lions in churches, 87, 92 ; 

relics in, 286, 288 
Rosary, ass with a, 242 ; origin of 

the, 243 
Rose, symbol of martyrdom, 76 
Rouen, celebration of Christmas at, 

265 ; foxes as begging friars, 225 ; 
. sirens in Notre Dame of, 317 
Ruby, virtue of, 36 
Rudolf von Ems, his ' Barlaam und 

Rumeland, cited, metaphors from 

animals, 136 
Rumpler, Angelus, his protest 

against animals in churches, 183 

Sahbath, personified soul of Israel, 

Saetersdal, Sigurd saga, 322, 324 

Sagas, Germanic, Christian sym- 
bolism of, 185 ; Norse sagas in 
Scandinavian churches, 324 

St. Ambrosius, in Milan, statue of 
Hercules slaying the Nemean 
lion, 307 

St. Anna, her three arms, 285 ; 
in Heiligenstadt, Jew sucking a 
sow, 297 

St. Anthony and the centaur, 317 

St. Aubin, siren in the cloister of, 

St. Aurelia, in Bregenz, statues of 
Alemannic gods, 307 




St. Barbara, in Coblence, relic of 

Jesus' fore-skin, 288 
St. Basil. See Basil the Great 
Saints' bones, queer anomalies in, 

284 ; rectified by Prof. Hyrtl, 

285 ; power of multiplication, 

St. Botolph's, unicorn, 96 ; musical 

pigs, 232 
St. Cecilia, in Trastevere, phcenix, 

St. Clemente, in Rome, Mithras 

worship, 4, 306 
SS. Cos?>ta e Damiano, phcenix, 

St. Costanza, in Rome, genii of the 

vintage, 303 
St. Croce in GerusaUmme, relics in, 

St. Croix, in Saint-L6, weighing 

souls, 330 
St. Cyprian. See Cyprian 
St. Denis, abbey of. Assumption 

of the Virgin as Venus, 7 ; 

gospel-mill, 160 ; in Amboise, 

foxes as pilgrims, 211 
St. Domitilla, catacomb, Christ 

with nimbus, 301 ; Orpheus, 303 
St. Esprit, St. Bernard's ass, 271 
St. Etienne, in Bourges, lion and 

pelican, 83 ; gospel-mill,- 160 ; 

in Limoges, foxes as begging 

friars, 225 
St. Fiacre, wiles of fox, 206, 208 ; 

"prick the fox," 208, 209 
St. Francis, Giotto's centaur on 

the tomb of, 320 
St. Gallus, images broken by, 307 
St. George, his combat with dragon 

borrowed from Horus slaying 

Seth-Typhon, 13 ; Coptic relief 

of, 14 ; his anniversary, 15 ; 

patron of Crusaders, 15 ; analo- 
gous to Sigurd, 327 
St. Germain des Pris, stattie of 

Isis, 307; siren, 316 
St. Gilles, centaurs in, 318 

St, HildefoKse. See Hijdefonse 

St. Isidore. See Isidore 

St. Jacgues-la-Bouckerie, Virgin in 
the form of Venus, 7 

St. /aurin, in Evreux, foxes as 
friars, 225 

St. Jean, in Lyons, ' Lay of Aris- 
totle,' 228; revolt of angels, 

St. John (in Lyons, see St. Jean), 
feast of, 69, 264; in Gmund, 
centaurs, 318 

St. Laurence, in Nuremberg, lion, 
82 ; phoenix, unicorn, pelican, 
and lion, 130 

St. L6, weighing souls, 330 

St. Lucia, Ulysses and sirens in 
the crypt of, 315 

St. Maria, in Capua, eagle catching 
fish, 118 ; in Organo, image of 
ass, 271 ; in Dantzig, angels with 
peacocks' feathers, 311 

St. Maria Novella, Charon, 310; 
centaurs pursuing the damned, 

St. Martin, in Leicester, fox 
preaching, 186, 223 ; near Trier, 
pagan altar, 307 

St. Mary, in Beverly, foxes as 
friars, 222 ; in Dantzig, Mem- 
ling's angels with peacocks' 
feathers, 31 1 

St. Maximus. See Maximus 

St. Michael, in Pforzheim, wolf as 
friar, 193 ; in Bruges, execution 
of the fox, 212, 213 ; archangel 
analogous to Sigurd, 327 ; weigh- 
ing souls, 329, 330 ; (Michele) 
in Pavia, Theseus slaying Mino- 
taur, 309 

St. Nicholas, in Stralsund, lion, 83 ; 
in Gbttingen, gospel-mill, 157 ; 
in Calcaf, carvings of animals, 
244 ; in Zerbst, Jews sucking 
sow, 292 ; in Anclam, sirens, 
317; in Fribourg, weighing 

i souls, 330 



Si. Nizier, in Troyes, apocalyptic 

beast, 156 
St. Peter, his two skulls, 286 
St. Pierre, in Aulnay, ass as priest, 
225, 277 ; in Caen, ' Lay of 
Aristotle,' 228 ; in Poitiers, 
musical hog and dog, 232 ; 

(Pietro), in Cora, haloed head of 
Apollo on a font, 307 
St. Porchaire, lion's jaws typical 

of hell, 92 
St. Prassede, phoenix, 127 ; list of 

relics in, 2S8 
St. Redegonde, unicorn and Virgin 

St. Sauveur-de-Nevres, Samson, 

St. Sehald, in Nuremberg, phoenix, 

unicorn, pelican, and lion^ 130; 

beasts as ministering spirits, 280 
St. Sernin, satire on Calvin, 194 
St. Sophia, in Novgorod, relief of 

centaurs, 318 
-St. Spin, devil over-reached by 

woman, 333 
St. Stephen, in Vienna, Samson, 

St. Tlieophilus. See Theophilus 
.St. Trephine, in Aries, centaurs, 

318 ; weighing souls, 330 
St. Ursin, in Bruges, execution of 

fox, 212, 213 
St. Victor, in Xanten, satire on 

Luther, 194; carving of monster 

typical of friars, 224 
St. Vigean, eagle taking a fish, 118 
St. Vitus, his four hands, 286 
Salamander, nature and symbolism 

of, 142, 143 
Salisbury Cathedral, carving of 

eagle and child, 234 
Salzburg, satire on Jews, 297 
Samir, nature of its blood utilized 

by Solomon, 42 
Samson, his exploits in Freiburg 

Minster, 91, 191, 192; and 

Delilah, 228 

Sapphire, worn in April, 37 ; 

symbolism of, 38 
Sardius, symbolism of, 39 
Sardonyx, symbolism of, 39 
Satan, woman a satellite of, 331,. 

333. See also Devil 
Satire, symbolism superseded by, 
185 sgq. ; on friars as foxes 
and other real or fabulous ani- 
mals, 186^195, 204, 208 — 226, 
232 — 245 ; on St, Bernard, 225 ; 
on Calvin and Luther, 194 ; on 
foibles, 219 ; on the Pope, 195, 
203, 223 ; on holy relics, 281 — 
284, 289; on tithes of eggs, 
240 ; on the Dominicans, 243 ; 
on Jews, 289 — 299 ; on women, 
331 — 333; on all classes and 
conditions of men, 335, 339 — 342 
Saturnalia, Carnival a survival of, 

Satyr, as good shepherd, 301 
Schad, Oscar, on Strasbnrg sculp- 
tures, 188 
Schaffhausen, relic of Joseph's 
bi-eath in the glove of Nico- 
demus, 288 
Schellensau, anti-Semitic game of 

cards, 299 note 
Schemhamphoras, meaning and use 

of, 290 
.SV;4o«^o^cr«,relief of Samson, 192 
Schott, on the sea-bishop and other 

marvels, 199 
Schottenkirche in Ratisbon, sirens, 

Schubert, G. H., his views of the 

mineral kingdom, 45 
Sea-bishop described, 198, 199 
Segura. See Lorenzo de Segura 
Seinsheim, Adam Friedrich ■son, 

his episcopal escutcheon, 294 
Seitz, Otto, his ' Dance of Death,' 

Senlis, chapter of the cathedral 

censures the clergy, 267 
Sepiuagint, translation of "chul," 



66 ; " like the phoenix," 127 ; "as 
a panther," 1345 "lair of the 
hyena," 139; "upon a pole," 
250 ; sirens, 314 
Serpent, characteristics and symbol- 
ism of, 114 — 116; king of, 163; 
trampled by hart, 223 ; relief of, 

Serra, nature and symbolism of, 

122 ; a sea-dragon, 125 
Seven, significance of, 40, 41 
Shakespeare, cited, 198, 254, 305 
Sherborne Minster, fox on the 

gallows, 212 
Sibyls, sculptures of, 309 
Sichem, in ass's litany, 274, 278 
Siegfried [Sigurd), his quiver of 

panther's skin, 137 ; s^a, 321 — 


Sienna, lion, 91 ; relic of St. Vitus, 
286 ; reliefe of creation, 320 

Siponto, lion, 87 

Siren, symbolism of, 154, 243, 3 14 
—317; in art, 313—317 

Snail, in apocalyptic beast, 157 ; 
as gonfalonier, 217 ; as vine-de- 
stroyer, 218 

Snake, Buddhistic symbol of re- 
generation, 32. See Serpent 

Sodom, symbol of carnal seduction, 

Solomon, his wisdom, 27 ; his 
magical construction of the 
Temple, 41—43 

Soviadeva, his allegory of human 
life, S 

Sophocles, symbolized by siren, 315 

South, sacred character of the, 258, 


Sow, as bier-bearer, 189 ; suckling 
Jews, 290, 292, 29s — 297 

Sphinx, symbolism of, 168 

Spider, Buddhistic symbol of self- 
illusion, 32 

Spire^ origin of the name Protestant, 

Squirrel, Buddhistic symbolism 

of the, 31 ; in Ely Cathedral, 

Stag, in chasuble, 186 ; chanting 
at the altar, 189, 235 ; reading 
breviary, 244. See also Hart 

Stanley, reliefs referring to the 
family of, 234 

Stolle, Meister, on the lion and 
ostrich, 94 

Stork, type of filial piety, 55 

Strabo, on the ichneumon, 132 

Strasburg, relief of lion and whelps, 
84 ; monk and b^guine, 187 ; 
burial of fox, 189 

Strieker [der), his ridicule of super- 
stition, 44 

Strobel, cited, 299 note 

^ Slromateus,' cited, 16 

Stuttgart, relief of Samson, 192 

Suetonius, on the remora, 125 

Suger, Abbot, description of gospel- 
mill, 160; animals in churches 
prized, 181 

Sun-worship, survivals of it in 
Christian feasts, 69 

Superstiiion, concerning animals, 8 
— II, 22 ; precious stones, 34 — 
40, 44 — ^49 ; concerning the uni- 
corn's horn, 105, 107 

' Suttanipata,' cited, 33 

Swallow, symbolism of the, 5S > 
Luther on the, 149 

Swan, symbol of Christian resig- 
nation, 153 

Swine, daisies before, 242 ; playing 
bagpipe, 242. See also Hog 
and Sow 

Symbolism, bee and flowers as 
symbols of love, 2, 3 ; Oriental 
source of, S ; of human life, S > 
its evolution out of metempsy- 
chosis, 7 ; hybrids and monsters 
in Egyptian, 10 ; survival of the 
fittest in Greek, 11; its degen- 
eracy into conventional forms, 
15 ; gradually superseded by 
satire, 18, 19, 185 — 191 ; sue- 



ceeded by scenes from the beast- 
epos in religious polemics, 193 — 
195 ; of animals and minerals 
(see the single names) 
Syphilis, miraculously healed at 
Grimmenthal, 103 ; called ele- 
phantiasis, 201 

Taciiiis, on Jewish ass- worship, 270 
Talmud (the), on exegesis, 29 ; on 

sea-monsters, 123 ; on west and 

east, 257 
Tarragona, reliefs in the cathedral 

of, 206 
Tau, signification of, 67, 248 
Tertian, significance of, 259 
Terrobuli, symbolism of, 49 ; in 

art, 5°; sculptured at Alne, 51 
Tertullian, his translation of Psalm 

xcii. 12, 127 ; his criterion of 

truth, 176; on the cross in nature, 

247 ; on ass-worship, 270 
Testimony, questionable value of 

ocular, 105 
Tetramorph, symbolism of, 154 ; in 

art, ISS, 156 
Thalemarken, Sigurd saga, 324 
Thaun. See Philippe de Thaun 
Theatre, decay of, 263 ; in sacred 

rites and feasts of the Church, 

Theobald of Plaisance, poem on 

beasts, 61 
Theophihis, allegorical exposition 

of creation, 55 
Theophrastus, pupil of Aristotle, 22 
Theseus, mosaic of, 309 
Thibault, the unicorn in his lyrics, 

Thisbe. See Pyramus 
Thomas h Becket, verse on the 

auricular conception of Christ, 99 
Thomas de Cantimfre, his book on 

natural things, 74 
Thomas of Celano, his hymn on the 

Last Judgment, 331 
Thomasin von Zircldre, on lions 

and eagles as patterns for courts 

and sovereigns, 93, 120 
Thora, personification of the, 262 
Toledo, in Spain, cathedral of, 

unicorn and Virgin, 96 ; reliefs 

of animals and the ' Lay of Aris- 
totle,' 226 
Topaz, virtues of, 36 
Tory, Geoffroy, Death in his 'Book 

of Hours,' 338 
Toulouse, satire on Calvin, 194 
Tournay, tomb of Childeric III. 

at, 4 
Tours, cathedral of, lion and 

phcenix, 83 ; Council of, 263 
Trefoil, not permissible to heretics, 

Trier, ' Evangeliarium ' in the 

Cathedral Library of, 156; Holy 

Coat at, 287 ; pagan altar in St. 

Martin's, near, 307 
Trinity, Egyptian symbol of, 14 ; 

symbolized by three hares, 239 ; 

influence of the doctrine on art, 

252; vestiges ofit in the material 

world, 252 — 254 
Trivium, personification of, 154 
Troyes, apocalyptic beasts in, 156, 

IS7 , . 

Tryggvason, King Olaf, his con- 
version, 326 

Turin, frog as symbol of the Resur- 
rection, 238 

Turquoise, worn in December, 37 

Turtle-dove, symbol of constancy, 
147, 148 

Tuscany, lions in the churches of, 

Typhon (Seth-), demon of sterility 
and death, 14 ; reliefs of Horus 
slaying, 13 ; weighing souls, 329 

Uhland, hunting-song in his col- 
lection, 108 
Ulysses, in Christian art, 315 
Unicom, symbol of cruel persons, 
73 ; Christ's Incarnation, 84, 



8s, 95—110; in art, 96 — 105, 
130 ; superstitious notions con- 
cerning its horn, 105 — 107 ; sig- 
nifies also Satan, 109 ; mounted 
by Chastity, 153 ; in poetry, 
99, 107, 108, no; enmity to the 
elephant and likeness to the he- 
goat, 109 ; description of, 1 10 
Urim and Thummim, signification 
and use of, 34 

Valkyrias, conductors of souls, 315 ; 

in the Sigurd saga, 321, 325 
Vadshtha, invocation of frogs in 

the Veda, 238 
Vatopedi, tetramoiph in the monas- 
tery of, ISS 
Vaughan, Rev. J. S., his discovery 

of vestiges of the Trinity in the 

material world, 252 — 254 
Vegitsdal, Sigurd saga, 324 
Velay, personification of sciences, 

154 ; weighing souls in a church 

at, 328 
Venus, fish sacred to, 121 
Vergil, as a prophet of Christ, 266 ; 

legend of his love adventure in 

sculpture, 229 ; met by centaurs 

in the lower world, 320 
Verona, image and tradition of the 

"true" ass, 271 
V^zelai, gospel-mill, 158 ; fighting 

the basilisk, 165, 166, 168; 

weighing souls, 328 
Vienna, griffin's claw at, 106 ; 

unicorn and Virgin symbolizing 

the triumph of chastity, 105 ; 

Samson, 192 
Villegas, Estevan Manuel de, his 

description of a duel between 

Amor and a bee, 2 
Villeneuve, Chdteau de, devils and 

angels fotg;ing the beads of 

woman and man, 333 
Villelte, Claude, his symbolism of 

church windows, 260 

Villon, Franfois, on pictures for 
instructing the ignorant, 183 

Vincent de Beauvais, his ' Specu- 
lum Naturale,' 74 ; on Pope 
Alexander's tunic of salamander, 
skins, 142 

Viollet-le-Dtic, on jollities in 
churches, 280 

Viper, copulation with the lamprey, 
55 ; symbol of sin, 66 ; horn of 
African viper, 109 

Virgin of the Seven Swords de- 
rived from Istar, 6 ; imitation of 
Venus, 7; Coptic Virgin and 
Child an imitation of Isis and 
Horus, 13 ; Virgin and unicorn, 
95 — 105 ; as a crystal vessel, 
164; relics of her three arms, 

Virtues, personification of theseven, 

Vischer, Peter, reliefs of birdlike 

virgins on his candelabra, 317 
Vishnu as Krishna, 4 
Vogelweide, See Walther von der V. 
Voragine, Jacobus de, his ' Golden 

Legend,' 5 ; on the cross in 

nature, 247 
Vulgate, capitals and initials in 

codex of the, 152; version of 

Proverbs xxx. 27 and Eccl. xii. 

5, 166 ; cited, 192 ; version of 

Zech. vi, 12, 257 tiote 
Vulture, eutokios used by, 48 ; 

Egyptian type of compassion, 128 

WacJismut von Miihlhausen, imag- 
ery from the self-renewal of the 
eagle, 120 

Wake, Johannes, rebus of crowing 
cock, 220, 222 

Wcdther von der Vogelweide, on 
auricular conception, 99 

Water-snake, confounded with the 
otter, 132 

Weasel, as slayer of serpents, 55 



Webb, Benjamin, heretical desecra- 
tion of sacred symbols denounced 
by, 256 

Weerth, Ernst aus'm, on belling the 
cat, 243 

Weighing souls, represented in 
church architecture, 328 — 331 ; 
in Indian mythology, 331 ; prom- 
inence of women in these deline- 
ations, 331 

Weimar, paintings of unicorn and 
Virgin at, 98 — 102 ; griffin's 
claws, 106 

Wenzel, his copper-plate of the 
papal ass, 202 

West, twofold signification of the, 

Whale, Jonah's, 84 ; two character- 
istics of the, 122, 123 ; in archi- 
tecture, 124; at Alne, 51, 124 

Whitsuntide, a solar feast, 69 

William, Abbot of St. Thierry, 
St. Bernard's letter to him cen- 
suring monstrosities in churches, 

William of Normandy, ' Le Bes- 
tiaire Divin,' date of, 72 ; on the 
owl, 78 ; on the unicorn, 96, 
109 ; on the panther, 137 

Wimpfen im Thai, Jew sucking 
sow at, 297 

Winchester Cathedral, satirical carv- 
ings in, 224 

Wittenberg, jews sucking a sow 
and prying into the Talmud, in 
parish church of, 289 — 291 

Wition, rebus, 222 

' Woes of France,' poem, 204 

Wolf, peculiarities of, 150, 15 1 ; 
with crucifix, 188 ; novitiate of, 
190 ; as preaching friar, 193 

Wolfram von Eschenbach, simile of 
lion's whelps, 92 ; on the medi- 

cinal and moral virtues of the 
unicorn's heart and horn, 107 

Woman, as Satan's ally, 331 — 333 

Wood-carvings, comical and gro- 
tesque, 216 — 219 

Worcester Cathedral, foxes in 
kennels and cowls, 210 

Word (the). Gnostic theory of, 98 ; 
incarnate through the ear and 
its representation in art, 99, 100 

Worms, tetramorph at, 155 ; in- 
scription to two self-sacrificing 
Jews, 300 

WUrzburg, incarnation of the Word 
through the ear in the cathedral 
of, 99 ; swine on escutcheon of 
Prince Bishop of, 294 

Wright, his edition of an English 
bestiary, 62 ; his translation of 
Philippe de Thaun, 71 

Xanten, St. Victor's Church, satire 
on Luther, 194 ; monster symbol- 
izing begging friars, 224 

Yama, th^'fate of the soul decided 

by, 331 
Yggdrasil, 252 
Yudhishthira, accompanied to 

heaven by his dog, 91 
Yupa, sacred to Parsis, 252 

Zappi, Felice, Cupids as bees in his 

poem, 2 
Zerbst, sow suckling Jews in St. 

Nicholas of, 292 
Zircldre. See Thomasin von Z. 
Zoolatry, universality of, 10 
Zorgi, Bertolome, his lady-love 

compared to the serpent, 116 
Zurich, centaurs in the minster 

cloister, 319 
Zweter. See Reinmar von Zweter 

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